Derry City & Strabane was represented at the WHO European Healthy Cities conference in Utrecht, Netherlands, last week. Our local Healthy Cities Coordinator (and Developing Healthy Communities Chief Executive) Edel O’Doherty shared the Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Natural Capital Account and Green Infrastructure plan in a workshop on the wellbeing economy. 

Derry City & Strabane District Council was the first in Northern Ireland to produce a natural capital account which puts a financial value to benefits provided by parks, greenways and nature. The report reveals that for every £1 we spend on publicly accessible greenspace we get £21 in benefits including those to health and mental health.     

Derry City and Strabane is part of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network’s pilot program for well-being economies, which aims to prioritize social well-being and environmental sustainability over traditional economic growth, aligning them with existing movements such as circular economies, community wealth building and social sustainability. They go beyond measuring gross domestic product (GDP), placing people and communities at the centre of policy- and decision-making. 

At the conference, the network adopted 12 recommendations for planetary, human, economic and social well-being including integrating well-being into urban planning and promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth

A view from Utrecht 

Edel writes: “Utrecht is a beautiful city with lots to teach us about the benefits of putting health at the top of the agenda, but it was really heartening to see politicians and representatives from around Europe so interested in learning from our own Council’s approach to maximising the benefits of our green and blue spaces. 

Being in the room with people representing 55 cities and 19 national networks, including many mayors and senior political representatives, all working to improve health in their own cities, really reminds you that we’re not alone. We met people from cities that share similar challenges to us, and that which have overcome them, and it shows you what can be achieved when you work together for people, planet and prosperity.