PACTE: More than an Erasmus project, part of a global shift - Pacte ProjectPACTE: More than an Erasmus project, part of a global shift - Pacte Project

PACTE: More than an Erasmus project, part of a global shift


This overview attempts to enlighten the evolution of the Healthy/ Active City concept since its conception. This timeline seeks to emphasise the relevance of the Promoting Active Cities Throughout Europe project, which surpasses a temporary 36-month project, given it actively contributes to the fight against physical inactivity and NCDs.

2018, July 02nd

PACTE: More than an Erasmus project, part of a global shift

Changing environments, changing behaviours


While the world population is estimated to continue its high-speed growth, reaching 9.8 billion by 2050 (7.6 billion at present), Europe is staring an increasingly ageing population in the face- with 35% of Europeans to be older than 60 by 2050. From a societal perspective, we have arrived at a problematical crossroad where on the one hand ageing populations are pressuring our current social systems, and on the other, today’s children are projected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. In addition, 68% of the world population is estimated to live in urban areas by 2050 – which will amount to 80% of the European population.[3]

Sedentarism has crept into most aspects of our modern lifestyles, and although the red flag has been branded many times before, the time to sound the alarm has come. With a growing concentration of population in urban areas, these environments are clearly a key element to changing the inactivity crisis. Furthermore, the PASS project discovered that over 65% of local policy-makers in Europe are unaware of the extent and consequences of the inactivity crisis.[4]

While it may not solve all issues at stake, we know that the Active City concept hugely contributes to answering many long-term societal concerns and to the enhancement of quality of life. As this article demonstrates, we are not alone in our belief.

Raising awareness


In 1987, WHO’s European Office launched the Healthy Cities Network in an attempt to foster sustainable local change and innovation. The Healthy City concept refers to an attainable process and not to an untouchable outcome, making the concept appealing to local governments. Membership requires 10 commitments, thus granting member cities with greater recognition than the European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation (ACES). Indeed, since 2001 ACES awards annual labels (Capital, city, community, town) that are intended to reward local governments resorting to sport as a means to improve social cohesion across communities. At first glance, the initiative appears to be a fresh impetus to the Healthy City movement, yet the titles come free of further commitments in regards to sport and physical activity (SPA). Rather an acknowledgement of carried out initiatives, the honorary label may be utilised by the winning entity as seen fit- most likely to draw in more funding. Since the creation of ACES, the Active City concept has steadily gained weight and attention on the political spectrum, notably due to a further series of advocacy initiatives.

Joining the change


In 1995, the establishment of the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) epitomises a new approach seeking to utilise SPA as a means to bring people together, have fun, and create a sense of belonging. A global organisation, ISCA is broadly recognised a leader in the promotion of informal SPA. One of their latest projects, “MOVEment Spaces”, launched an online platform gathering best practices to promote informal urban SPA. This is telling not only of the need for behaviours to change, but also for accessible resources.

Circling back to the idea of Active City as a process rather than a result, Liverpool City is undoubtedly one the best examples at hand. In 2005, Liverpool figured among Britain’s five worst health figures and yet in less than 15 years, it managed to completely reverse the situation- today, it figures in the top five. Several multiannual strategies, cross-sector collaborations, increased accessibility and a very open-mind to the local needs and desires were key to its success. Other cities such as Copenhagen or Amsterdam are known to have committed to the Active City concept, but many others have also jumped on board (London, Paris, ‘S-Hertogenbosch, etc.).

A guiding hand


We live in a paradoxical era- the wholesome benefits of regular SPA have never been so well researched, and yet sedentary levels have never been so high. 46% of Europeans are physically inactive. Studies have surpassed the primary benefits SPA has on physical and mental health; the Human Capital model emphasises the widespread positive outcomes SPA has on an individual’s social life and across the society.

As of such, advocacy has evolved to the next step with more and more initiatives striving to break down the Active City process in order to attract and guide local authorities to implement evidence-based policies.

In 2011, TAFISA (International Association for Sport for All) launched the Triple AC program, a reward system for cities that encourage citizens to undertake regular SPA, and in 2017 many of the same actors established the Active Well-being Initiative (AWI) NGO. Via a recognised certification and framework that is ISO-compatible, AWI guides local changes across societies and further introduces new forms of governance that ensure sustainability.

Local authorities constitute a plentiful demand for resources and a guiding hand, and therefore welcome with open arms such initiatives.

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) are proven to be directly linked to sedentarism, yet too little is done to fight the epidemic- under this light, WHO seeks action by adopting the “Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030: More active people for a healthier world” (GAPPA).

Once more, local authorities are designed as central actors to promote and facilitate inclusive SPA. The aim is clear: reduce physical inactivity of 10% by 2025, and 15% by 2030- 4 objectives and 20 recommended policy-actions are proposed to do so.

PACTE’s added value


The PACTE project not only aligns with GAPPA’s objectives (social norms, active environments, active workplaces, and active systems of governance), but goes the extra mile.

Promoting Active Cities Throughout Europe focuses on municipal SPA policies since they have the most direct effect on citizens and because it is a vastly under-researched sphere of SPA.  Our project therefore aims to deliver a European-wide representative survey of municipal SPA policies and strategies thus delivering a unique mapping of Europe. The collection of data and its analysis will contribute to the creation of an Active Cities matrix for change, which will be a freely accessible online tool for municipalities to evaluate their SPA state of play and will offer tailored recommendations for continuous improvement. Cities and municipalities will thus have access to an easily understandable tool, which focuses on the spheres of active schools, active mobility and active workplaces. Following the research phase, a pool of ambassador cities will be selected to showcase the step-by-step Active City process, therefore demonstrating the accessibility of the evolution. Finally, a communication campaign targeting European municipalities will strive to best broadcast the available tools, in the quest to trigger greater consideration from local authorities.

 

This overview attempts to enlighten the evolution of the Healthy/ Active City concept since its conception. This timeline seeks to emphasise the relevance of the Promoting Active Cities Throughout Europe project, which surpasses a temporary 36-month project, given it actively contributes to the fight against physical inactivity and NCDs.

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