Cities as a Setting to Bring About Change

Promoting Active Cities throughout Europe
01/10/2018 10:02

Physical inactivity is bankrupting economies at national level, but it is most felt acutely by Europe’s cities  – often through negative impacts on the health of people, economies and the environment.


ICSSPE partners in the EU funded project Promoting Active Cities through Europe (PACTE), starting now for the next three years, to provide a plan for creating active cities, whatever their size and wherever in Europe they may be. Cities are increasingly becoming the dominant form of environment in Europe, representing the heart of many communities. However, to date, physical activity promotion policies have tended to focus on the national level. A currently under-utilised resource has been the more local governmental agency. In light of the evidence growth of urbanisation across Europe, it is worth considering the impact of policies at the municipality level.


In relation to these policy context and needs, the project plans to address the following general and specific objectives:


To conduct a Europe-wide representative survey of municipalities’ physical activity policies and practices in order to identify the status of municipalities’ physical activity policies across Europe and to investigate gaps in policy and practice;


To create a matrix for change for Active Cities which shall be based on an evidence-based rating and evaluation process, focusing on building a relationship between the established key success areas and targeted population engagement, as well as on tailored recommendations for continuous improvement for participating cities;


To develop and deliver a communication campaign targeting municipalities in Europe, accompanied by online resources with the objective to support municipalities in the development and delivery of physical activity policies.


Under the leadership of Sport and Citizenship the project partners have established a number of policy areas which appear relevant in relation to the objectives:


Active Leisure: The success of this initiative will depend largely on the ability to mobilize stakeholders, especially those who have the potential to address physical activity and who have significant assets to reach out to citizens. The sport sector, in particular through its activities directed towards the population, highlights the dimension of sport for all or grassroots sports is therefore a key player in any successful action to promote HEPA;


Active Transport: Transportation policies and strategies are paramount to facilitate safe and affordable access to sports programmes, playgrounds and parks, ensure safe and user-friendly transportation systems, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly communities, and provide incentives to employers to encourage physically active forms of transportation;


Active Education: There is a strong mutual relationship between physical activity and health. School-based physical education is effective in increasing levels of physical activity and improving physical fitness. School-based physical education is the most widely available source to promote physical activities among young people. Therefore, every effort should be made to encourage schools to provide physical activities on a daily basis in all grades, inside or outside the curriculum and in cooperation with partners from the local community, and to promote interest in life-time physical activities in all pupils;


Active Workplaces: There is increasing evidence that physical activity embedded into the workplace is associated with increased productivity, lower levels of sickness and absenteeism, increased staff stability, and improved motivation. For most people, the work environment is the place where they spend the second greatest amount of time, so it is a place where people have the time and opportunity to engage with physical activity, which can be combined with other health messages (such as nutrition and water). Strategies to capitalise upon the opportunities offered by active workplaces include flexible working hours, regular health checks, provision of bicycles for active transport, accessible showers and changing facilities, and subsidised fitness and sports memberships. Many employers recognise that they have an obligation to the health and wellbeing of their workforce. Investing in the health of employees can also bring business benefits such as reduced sickness absence, increased loyalty and better staff retention. It is a fundamental setting where physical activity can express itself.


The PACTE project will start with a kick-off meeting on 15th and 16th January, 2018, and results will regularly be presented here.