Cities all over the world are invited to take part in the Global Active City programme, a new initiative to promote health and physical activity. Already in place in 10 pilot cities, this programme, supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has proved successful in significantly improving the health of these cities’ inhabitants and increasing their participation in sport and physical activity.
The programme was officially launched today, 3 October, in Montreal (Canada) by the Active Well-being Initiative (AWI), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Switzerland created as a partnership between TAFISA (The Association for International Sport for All) and Evaleo, an NGO specialising in development and the promotion of well-being and sustainable health.
The Global Active City scheme includes standards, supporting tools and training modules to enable cities and their leaders to take concrete steps towards the enhancing well-being of their population. In due course, cities can obtain the Global Active City label, to illustrate the quality and effectiveness of their projects in this area.
While all cities have their own structure and culture, they often face the same challenges: growing urbanisation, increasingly sedentary lifestyles and social inequality. The programme thus takes a systemic, flexible and evolutive approach, and provides tools that can be adapted to the local context in terms of size, environment and objectives.
The IOC has supported the AWI since the early days of its development in 2013, as it is fully in line with the philosophy of Olympic Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, which seeks to strengthen the place of sport and the Olympic values in contemporary society; mobilise young people; and foster partnerships to address the lack of physical activity and the increasing problems caused by sedentary lifestyles. The IOC’s partnership with the AWI will help to achieve these goals.
For Marie Sallois-Dembreville, IOC Director of Corporate Development, Brand and Sustainability, cities have a new, pragmatic way to enhance the quality of life of their citizens, and particularly their young people: “The AWI is a powerful solution for cities to promote active and healthy living. It clearly demonstrates a city’s achievements in creating lasting social benefits through sport. We welcome this initiative, which fits perfectly with the recent IOC legacy approach.
The city of Liverpool (Great Britain), the first to put in place its own “Active City” model, back in 2005, is proud of its positive results. When the programme was launched, fewer than one person in five exercised for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. Twelve years later, that figure is now one adult in two. Liverpool’s next target is to become the most active city in England by 2021 and use its experience to help other cities.
As well as Liverpool, nine other cities around the world were part of the pilot programme: Buenos Aires (Argentina), Gaborone (Botswana), Karşiyaka (Turkey), Lausanne (Switzerland), Lillehammer (Norway), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Richmond (Canada) and Tampere (Finland).
The programme, which is aligned with the recommendations and guidelines of the WHO, UNESCO, UN Habitat and other international organisations, has now been rolled out all over the world, with all cities invited to join this initiative to become a Global Active City.
Luis Gustavo Lobo, tennis Olympian and now Undersecretary of Sports for the City of Buenos Aires, can also see the benefits of the Global Active City programme: “Working with the AWI as one of the pilot cities helped us to better structure our approach and to focus on key priorities. It also opened new forms of collaboration between city departments and experts who rarely work together. We now have a new momentum to tackle some of the pressing needs of our youth population.”
Several Youth Olympic Games (YOG) host cities – Lillehammer in 2016, Buenos Aires in 2018 and Lausanne in 2020 – have decided to be part of this programme and use the catalysing effect of the YOG to accelerate the promotion of physical activity, sport and healthier lifestyles in every age group.
For more details, go to activewellbeing.org and check out the latest Olympic Review articles on the programme.