There is a renewed interest in the role of health impact assessments (Bhatia and Wernham, 2009). On the other hand Bayat (2000) argues that current theoretical perspectives and conceptual frameworks cannot account for the complex impact of the double processes of global restructuring, -integration, marginalisation & informalisation of the economy - on the contested political space of cities and calls for more sophisticated theoretical models. Indeed frameworks matter, because they determine the research questions that are posed and studied and the response to a particular problem (Krieger & Gruskin, 2001). The determinants of existing environmental health inequities require critical research attention (Northridge et al, 2003). Finally, Jason Corburn (2009) argues that there is a need for new political frames to move toward healthy city planning, that include considerations of population health, a relational perspective of place, an understanding of planning as governance, and relations of power. Health impact assessment can play a critical role. The historical connections between urban planning and public health and the later disconnects with its implications for population health, are examined in detail in Toward the Healthy City. Reconnecting the fields of urban planning and public health and transdisciplinary approaches in sciences, are essential “not only for improving local governance, but also for understanding and addressing global political change” (2009, p. 11).
Question for a future research agenda
What does participatory urban governance mean in theory and practice in different contexts?
How can the case be made for making urban health equity a priority through multilevel governance? (It is the best indicator of society’s performance in the urban setting)
How best can social determinants of health and health inequalities be identified across population groups and spaces within and between cities?
How has/can evidence of health inequalities been/be used to identify and implement governance innovations to improve health equity?
How can access to information be ensured and a common database be established and shared among all the key players to address urban health equity?
How urban governance is interpreted, organized and implemented in different contexts?
What forms of governance best enhance health equity and access to public goods?