DIBA publishes the guide “Consideration to be integrated into the assessment of the impact on Health in the strategic environmental assessment”


It is estimated that around 80% of the determinants of health are outside the conventional health system. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the 23% of deaths worldwide are related to the environment. This figure could be reduced by joining efforts to connect health and urban planning with the aim of achieving healthier urbanism.
Establishing a foundation in the urban model that prioritizes improving the health and quality of life of citizens is essential to minimize the factors that condition a large part of the diseases that we suffer.
With the aim of incorporating key criteria for health in the environmental assessment of urban plans, the Barcelona Provincial Council has long sought synergies between other areas or services and under the joint coordination of the Public Health and Urban Planning field, they have drawn up the guide Consideration to be integrated into the assessment of the impact on Health in the strategic environmental assessment (the document is only available in Catalan).
The guide establishes the technical guidelines so that the teams drafting the environmental assessment documents of the municipal urban planning plans (POUM) consider health in a transversal and continuous way throughout the procedures, but that it can also serve as a document of interest for the group of professionals involved in the development of territorial and urban plans
Among the guidelines to promote healthy urban planning principles, the guide cites:
  • Mixed use of land, offering a wide and diverse range of opportunities and spaces to meet the needs of daily life: work, shopping, education, health, culture and leisure.
  • A city structure with a medium density, with diverse activity centers.
  • A road network that connects the different neighborhoods and population centers and that facilitates access to open spaces for the practice of sports and leisure activities, with priority for pedestrians and cyclists, with good circuits that allow direct access to key destinations and the public transport.
In the guide you can find tools and recommendations to consider the environmental evaluation in the POUM's according to the following key aspects:
  • Urban territory model: define and analyse the environmental implications of the affected territory.
  • Air quality: verify the existence of pollutants and the responsible sources to which the population is exposed.
  • Acoustic quality: assess the population exposed to sound levels harmful to health.
  • Open spaces and free spaces: introduce the concept of green infrastructure according to the guide's recommendations.
  • Water cycle: ensure that the population's water supply and quality are analyzed.
  • Natural and technological risks: guarantee the safety of people from possible natural risks.
  • Climate change: the impact on health derived from some foreseeable effects that are already being perceived from climate change should be addressed (for example, deaths associated with heat stroke).
  • Waste and materials: identify more clearly the system of collection, management and treatment of waste generated at the municipal level, in order to avoid serious effects on people's health.
  • Socioeconomics: analyze the socioeconomic characteristics of the population to identify current and future social needs to ensure the well-being of the population.