Healthy Spaces & Places Healthy Spaces & Places

Why Health and Planning?

Health and Sustainability

pedestrians and parked bikes, Melbourne
Source: Planning Institute of Australia

“Climate change and obesity are both consequences of our current way of life. A clear link between these two conditions is our increasing reliance on fossil fuels to propel ourselves around our environment (motor cars, escalators), resulting in increasing emissions of carbon dioxide. It also reduces the use of food energy in our bodies, so that this energy is stored as fat on our waistlines. Thus from a biological perspective, both climate change and obesity are to some extent the result of the same behavioural maladaptation.”

- Professor Stephen Boyden AM, previously Professor in Human Ecology,
Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University Patron, Nature and Society Forum

Planning, health and sustainability are closely linked. There is widespread acceptance of the principle of sustainable development, due in part to the significant environmental challenges that confront society today including climate change, fossil fuel dependency, food security, rising greenhouse gas emissions, excessive water use and pollution of the air, water and soil.

Sustainable development means that development is considered appropriate if it fulfils social, cultural, environmental and economic priorities, at the same time safeguarding the interests of current and future generations. Healthy urban planning contributes to sustainable outcomes for all by:

  • encouraging active transport (walking and cycling) rather than car dependency, thus reducing green house emissions
  • encouraging social inclusiveness and safe communities where residents feel part of their local community, engaged and active.
Healthy and sustainable communities are those that are well designed and safe, with local facilities (including school, corner store, childcare facilities, medical practice, recreation facilities, community services); streets designed for active transport, walking and cycling; with parks and public spaces for people to meet and interact; places for people to experience art and culture; and with cycle facilities and public transport.

There are many benefits to be gained by considering people’s health and wellbeing in conjunction with the built environment. These benefits are referred to throughout Healthy Spaces and Places.  

Active travel: a climate change mitigation
strategy with co-benefits for health

EnviroDevelopment - environmental sustainability rating tool for new developments

Healthy Planet, Places & People

How Car Use Fuels Climate Change & Obesity

VicUrban - Sustainable Community Rating

WHO Climate Change: Implications for International Public Health Policy

Your Development - Creating Sustainable Neighbourhoods


Last updated on 22nd July, 2009

Sponsors This project was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.