IMIM - Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques IMIM - Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques

Healthy cities and enviromental justice Isabelle Anguelovski

The group's research line focuses on the social determinants of healthy and just cities and on the health and social impacts of urban planning initiatives, particularly those aimed at creating greener, more sustainable, and resilient cities. Many of our studies examine environmental and health inequities resulting from planning decisions and interventions, and the extent to which community actions, policies, and planning decisions are able to address such inequities. We also analyze how cities integrate health risks, impacts, and emergencies into urban planning and policy, the constraints they face to bring health, health equity, and health services to the center of policy agendas, planning decisions, and implementation, and the opportunities that exist to bring health to the center of urban planning and development.

Most recently, we have integrated research on the combined threats of the climate emergency and COVID-19. This research is evaluating the wellbeing and health benefits of recent strategic environmental interventions (sustainable and active mobility; rooftop and community gardens; public spaces; and playgrounds) that respond to these environmental and health threats. We also pay particular attention to the equity challenge for residents who are particularly vulnerable to both climate impacts and the physical and mental toll of the pandemic, and the health-centered interventions that these emergencies have triggered.

The team's empirical studies take on a mixed-method approach, combining spatial, quantitative, and qualitative research, in cities in the global North and South, including in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, and Latin America. We bring together theory from public health and health equity, urban planning, public policy, urban and environmental sociology, and urban geography. From June 2016 onwards, this research has been developed under the Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability umbrella.

Some of our recent projects include:

  • An analysis of neighborhood organization for improved environmental health conditions and health equity in low-income and minority districts of Boston, Barcelona and Havana
  • An examination of the social and environmental impact of community initiatives working towards healthier urban environments and low-carbon economies in the domains of food, waste, energy, and mobility. This research is taking place in Barcelona, Rome, Aberdeen, Berlin, and Oulu through the TESS FP7 project
  • An analysis of sustainable and equitable slum upgrading in Rio and Medellin. Our attention is placed on green and public space provision and equitable access to food
  • An analysis of the health and environmental inequities created by land use planning interventions for climate adaptation in Boston, New York, New Orleans, Durban, Jakarta, Dhaka, Manilla, Surat, Santiago, and Medellin.
  • An evaluation of the social impact of green space and park creation in Barcelona.
  • An analysis of the implications of socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity for understanding and addressing health inequities in New York

Relevant current projects  

  • Optimisation of Urbanising Environments for Population Health (OPTIMUM), Wellcome Trust. Lead PI: M. Nieuwenhuijsen (CREAL); Co-PIs: A. Plasencia (ISGlobal), W. Maas (TU Delft), I. Anguelovski (UAB), E. Chu (UvA), S. Rueda (BCNecologia), C. Tonne (CREAL), G. Lopez-Casasnovas (UPF), C. Dora (WHO), R. Suriñach (UN-Habitat) 2016 (39.490 Euros), Co-PI
  • Project I+D+I, MINECO, Spain (CSO2015-65066-R) “Urban Frontiers: Dispossession, resilience, and resistance in extreme urban spaces (En las fronteras de lo urbano: Desposesion, resiliencia y resistencia en espacios) 2016-2020 (20.500 Euros), Co-PI
  • Maria de Maetzu, Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, 2016-2020 (2 million Euros), Co-responsible PI
  • ERC Starting Grant, GREENLULUS Ranked #1 in SH3 panel, Principal Investigator, European Research Council, 2016-2021 (1.5 million Euros), PI  
  • Ramon y Cajal Fellowship, Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, 2016-2021, PI
  • FP7 ENVIRONMENT Collaborative grant, TESS (Towards European Societal Sustainability), European Commission, 2013-2016 (396,134 Euros), UAB PI

Relevant publications



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