This report, with the presentations, videos and other materials from the conference, posted on the City Health International website, together make up the archive for the City Health 2015 conference. The website can be found at

Click here to download a PDF version of the report

The Organisers

City Health 2015 was hosted by Agència de Salut Pública de Catalunya andAgència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, with generous support fromFundació "la Caixa". The conference was produced by Knowledge Action Change.

The Context

The theme for this fourth City Health conference - “ensuring urban health and well-being in the face of the global financial crisis” – was timely, given the agenda of austerity being introduced by many governments, with significant impacts, particularly on essential services and support for the most disadvantaged in our communities.

Against this backdrop, the agenda for the conference was designed to look both at the philosophical, legal and economic constructs that mould our social structures, as well as looking at examples of how groups can collaborate to develop and deliver interventions, support and services to improve well-being in their communities.

The theme of the conference was particularly relevant to the situation in Catalunya, as well as more widely across the regions of Spain. As in previous editions, the conference had a significant ‘local flavour’ reflecting the long-standing commitment of Catalunya, and Barcelona in particular, to promoting health and well-being to its many populations. As one of Europe’s most established ports, the city has many historical links with the rest of the world and a rich cultural mix. Like many places it is experiencing the problems that have emerged on the back of economic recession, but strives to maintain the essential services and interventions, in keeping with its ‘health in all policies’ approach to government.

The Conference

The conference took place at the magnificent CosmoCaixa, a hub of science and learning, generously donated by Fundació "la Caixa" for the two days of the event. There were opening and closing sessions, 4 plenary sessions, six parallel sessions, a memorial lecture and the presentation of the Paolo Pertica Award. In addition throughout the conference there was a poster area, enabling delegates to learn more about some initiatives and projects relevant to the topics on the formal agenda for the event.

The programme for the conference can be viewed and downloaded at

Speakers included academics, politicians, policy makers and practitioners, with each session designed to explore crosscutting issues and problems and to identify potential synergies in response to them.

There were 44 speakers in all. Half were from Spain, with the remainder from other countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Ukraine, UK and USA .

The programme included a lecture, delivered by Sir Harry Burns, from the Centre for Health Policy, the University of Strathclyde, and former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, which was followed by a reception generously hosted by the City of Barcelona.

The Paolo Pertica Award for 2015 was presented to the Team at the Programme on Substance Abuse of the Public Health Agency of Catalunya, in recognition of their innovative efforts over the past decade and more to maintain the principles of harm reduction, assisting large numbers of people from marginalised groups, including prolific offenders, to access drug treatment and other health services.

The hub of the conference included the poster area, with 37 posters from around the world. This is a significant increase on the number from last year and demonstrates the value of this feature to the event as a whole. The area also served to provide a networking space for delegates, with food and refreshments also provided there.

The organisers are grateful to the efforts of the members of the Programme Committee [1] for the conference, again lead by Professor Gerry Stimson, for their work in helping shape the conference.

This was the first City Health conference to benefit from some simultaneous translation – into Catalan and Spanish. This was made possible through financial support from the Generalitat de Catalunya and KAC.

Attendance and Feedback

To promote the conference we used our existing networks and databases, together with those of the host organisations, and extended the scope via colleagues within public health generally.

Over 160 people took part in the conference over the two days, with some attending only part of the conference. Sixty-five per cent of those attending came from Spain, with 14% from the UK. The remainder were from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal Russia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Ukraine and USA .

In addition there were 5 conference staff, supported by a team of 8 volunteers, made up of students from public health post-graduate courses from different countries.

In terms of sectors represented by participants, twenty per cent were from NGOs/voluntary sector, 31% from governmental/public sector organisations, 39% were academics and 10% were independents – including some from the private sector .

Completed feedback forms were received from 41 participants (25%). Respondents were asked to rate a number of aspects of the conference programme, organisation and venue (on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent). In addition other comments were also welcomed.

Regarding the programme there was an overall approval rating of 95% (good/very good/excellent). Respondents rated theoverall quality of the presentations 98% (good/very good/excellent) with 90% believing the programme met their expectations (largely/almost entirely/entirely).

The individual sessions were rated by those who attended each of them. The plenaries, keynotes, opening and closing sessions – attended by the majority of those providing feedback – all rated over ninety per cent (good/very good/excellent). The lecture, delivered by Sir Harry Burns, was the highlight, receiving a 100% rating as good/very good/excellent.

Each of the parallel sessions was attended by only a proportion of the respondents, which may distort the feedback somewhat. The average rating as good/very good/excellent was 45%, with a range of between 36%-68%.

In terms of the overall organisation of the event, overall89% rated as good/very good/excellent the conference website, including the registration process. The pre-conference administration rated 90% (good/very good/excellent), with on-site services rating 80% (good/very good/excellent). The quality of delegate materials rated 75% (good/very good/excellent).

Conference staff and volunteers received approval ratings of 94% (good/very good/excellent) .

In terms of the venue, the catering – including the lunches, refreshments and reception - received a92% positive response (good/very good/excellent). Most respondents(93%) rated the helpfulness of conference and venue staff as good/very good/excellent. Some 91% gave the venue and layout a similar rating.

Overall 87% rated the conference as a whole good/very good/excellent value for money.

In addition to the ratings, we also asked participants to provide additional comments, should they wish. With regard to the programme:

  • Great learning experience.
  • A very thought provoking and interesting conference.
  • Enjoyable and informative, with high calibre speakers.
  • A really interesting and engaging conference.
  • The range of policy, research and practical was very good.
  • The memorial lecture from Sir Harry Burns and the closing from Geoff Gallop were excellent.
  • The most memorable parts were the presentation by Sir Harry Burns - fantastic and outstanding; the plenary 3 with Neil Quinn and Martin Cawley, talking about their work and experience; the presentation by the Minister of Health was very interesting; keynote by David Wilson and the presentation by the WHO representative from Japan, Paul Rosenberg

In addition others commented on the venue:

  • Stimulating and well organised, in a beautiful city and venue.
  • Excellent in terms of overall content, venue and hospitality.

More general comments included:

  • Everything was organized on the highest level. Looking forward to the one-day conference in London in 2016.
  • I networked with many interesting people and I have every intention of attending the next CHI conference.
  • It was very good experience for me, thank you so much!

There were also a number of queries and suggestions made and these arte summarised below:

  • Create more opportunities for networking and informal discussion.
  • Give more time and consideration to the posters – possibly discreet slots for presentation and discussion outside of refreshment and lunch breaks.
  • Consider introducing more languages to make the event more accessible.
  • Promote the use of social media before and during the conference – use of a single hashtag.

Organisers thank those who have taken the time to contribute their feedback. It is valuable to have it to inform the production of future events, ensuring that they remain relevant to those who attend.

Outputs from the Conference

The conference assembled an impressive combination of academics, policy makers, professionals and advocates to raise awareness of the importance of ‘joined-up’ thinking and action to address health behaviours in the urban context. The event also provided valuable networking opportunities to further the development of City Health International.

The lasting legacy of the conference is the archive website - - where the programme, presentations, videos, photos and other materials generated by the conference can be accessed in perpetuity by both those who attended and others, making the learning from the event widely available and adding to the growing body of information available from City Health International.

Investment and Support

As well as thanks due to our local hosts for all their efforts, the organisers are grateful to Fundació "la Caixa", the City of Barcelona, Red Española de Ciudades Saludables and Emerald Publishing for their generous support for the conference.

The Future for City Health International

City Health International is now an established network, providing opportunities to promote ‘joined-up’ solutions to urban health and wellbeing, through bringing together different disciplines and professions, along with consumers and advocates, organising debates and discussions, and enabling creative initiatives and projects to be showcased.

The next City Health conference will be held at the Guildhall, in the City of London, 19th September 2016. The local hosts for the conference will be the London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum. More details can be found on the conference website

[1] Members included: Gerry Stimson (K•A•C, UK) – co-chair | Elia Diez (Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Spain) – co-chair |Ingrid van Beek (Kirketon Road Centre, Australia) | Carmen Cabezas (Agència de Salut Pública de Catalunya, Spain) | Martin Cawley (Turning Point Scotland, UK) | Joan Colom (Agència de Salut Pública de Catalunya, Spain) | Anke van Dam (Aids Foundation East West, Netherlands) | Ana Estebaranz (Red Española de Ciudades Saludables, Spain) |Geoff Gallop (University of Sydney, Australia) | Mark Nieuwenhuijsen (CREAL Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Spain) | Neil Quinn (University of Strathclyde, UK) | Rafa Vilasanjuan (IS Global, Spain)