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Belfast Healthy Cities

Our vision is to be a leader in creating
a healthy, equitable and sustainable city

Healthy Cities 21st Century

Our Work

Past projects -  examples of some of BHC best projects

Phase VI, 2014 - 2018

Shaped around the goals and objectives of the European strategy for health and well-being, Health 2020, the overarching goals of Phase VI were improving health for all, reducing health inequities and improving leadership and participatory governance for health. 

Belfast Healthy Cities in this phase worked with a number of partner organisations including the Education Authority with whom we developed a teaching resource for primary schools.  The resource encourages pupils to look at their local built environment, identify challenges and develop their ideas into proposals to help improve it for themselves and their communities.

2018 marked 30 years of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network and 30 years for Belfast as a network member.  Belfast was the host to 600 delegates from 200 cities across 60 countries who attended the WHO International Healthy Cities Conference 'Changing Cities to Change the World' which both celebrated 30 years as a Network and looked forward to the next Phase.  The Belfast Charter, which outlines the actions that cities will need to undertake in the next phase, was formally adopted at the Conference. 

Phase V, 2009 - 2013

The overarching goal for Phase V was Health Equity in all Policies (HEiAP) and provides Healthy Cities with the opportunity to work with local government and central departments.

Since 2009 Belfast Healthy Cities has provided an ongoing central role within the Network, as Secretariat of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network.

On European Culture Night 2011 and on the following weekend the first Kids Square event took place transforming St Anne’s Square into a children’s space with active space, creative space and free space. Kids Square – renamed as Kids Space has become an annual event attracting large number of families with extremely positive feedback.

Phase IV, 2003 - 2008

Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) in this Phase: Belfast Air Quality Action Plan; Houses in Multiple Occupation Policy; Green Travel Plan; Lower Shankill Regeneration; Connswater Community Greenway

This Phase developed key documents widely used by partner and other organisations throughout the city including a publication series produced by the pilot Equity in Health training programme which focused on building organisational capacity to tackle inequalities in health.


The World Health Organization selected Belfast to host the 2003 International Healthy Cities Conference. This event attracted over 800 delegates from over 68 countries around the world. The international conference is held at the end of every five year phase and marks the official culmination of each phase of the Network. Politicians from represented cities pledged their continued support in the Belfast Declaration, which underpins Phase IV.

Phase III, 1998 - 2002

Phase III was launched with a Charter of Commitment by Chief Executives from the City. Planning for a Healthy City was the first intersectoral health development plan for Belfast and was later used as an example for Health Improvement Plans developed across Northern Ireland under the Investing for Health Partnerships.

Phase II, 1993 - 1997

The healthy buildings award was designed to encourage builders, architects and developers to produce buildings that were constructed using sustainable materials, providing healthy and safe indoor environments and paid attention to how buildings influences the local community. The competition was organised in 1992, 1994 and 1998 and promoted the concept of healthy buildings. A draft health policy for women in Belfast was published by the Women’s Health Issue Group in 1995.

Phase I, 1988 - 1992

Belfast first designated to WHO Healthy Cities Network - New partnership model established to improve health and address health inequalities