International Conference on Sustainable Cities, Communities and Partnerships for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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  • DATE / TIME:
    2017•10•05    09:00 - 2017•10•07    17:00
    Kuala Lumpur

    UNU-IIGH will be hosting a special session, “Cross-Sector Perspectives on the Heat Obstacle to Walkability in the Tropics” at the International Conference on Sustainable Cities, Communities and Partnerships for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) taking place from 5-7 October, 2017 at Menara Kembar Bank Rakyat. The session is scheduled for the first day of the conference.


    Walkable urban neighbourhoods are linked with lower levels of obesity and diabetes, enhanced social interactions, and higher rates of public transit use. Walkability is therefore an important leverage point for both human health and wellbeing and urban sustainability. As such, it holds significant potential to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (particularly goals 3, 9, 10, and 11). Heat and humidity are major obstacles to walkability in tropical climates, with physiological discomfort occurring quickly during periods of walking. Rising temperatures due to climate change and urban heat island effects will exacerbate this problem, with consequences for physical activity levels and transportation mode choices — important drivers of urban health, liveability, and sustainability.

    The substantial literature on walkability provides many examples of interventions to reduce the impacts of heat. However, implementing walkability solutions — especially in already-established urban environments — is complicated. This multi-faceted problem involves a multitude of stakeholders, such that transdisciplinarity and cross-sectoral collaboration are critical to the identification and implementation of effective interventions. The United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH), in partnership with Cardiff University’s Sustainable Places Research Institute, UKM-LESTARI, the Penang Institute, and other local partners, has developed its “Systems Thinking and Place-Based Methods for Healthier Malaysian Cities,” (i.e., SCHEMA) project to explore this and other urban issues with stakeholders from across disciplines and sectors to build partnerships (SDG 17) for sustainability and health. SCHEMA is supported by the British Council’s Newton-Ungku Omar Fund. This symposium is part of SCHEMA’s ongoing effort to catalyse transdisciplinary collaborations for sustainable, healthy Malaysian cities.

    This dialogue brings together various disciplines—health, climate action, architecture, and planning — and sectors — academia, NGOs, private sector, and government—to explore the challenge of heat and walkability in the tropics. Through a series of short talks and discussion, the panel will consider infrastructural solutions, social paradigms, and issues of jurisdiction, ownership, and incentives in a holistic approach to meeting this challenge in Malaysian cities. This conversation aims to generate insights into the systems that have generated existing urban settings and how these systems might be exploited or modified to achieve greater walkability.

    Session Panel Members:

    1. David Tan, United Nations University, Research Officer
    2. Hj. Abdul Rauf b. Abd. Rahim, DBKL Infrastructure Planning Department, Senior Deputy Director
    3. Chan Seong Aun, Green Building Index, Accreditation Panel Chair
    4. Mr. Phubalan Karunakaran, WWF Malaysia, One Planet City Challenge Team Leader
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    Menara Kembar Bank Rakyat,
    33, Jalan Rakyat,
    50470 Kuala Lumpur.

  • Dr David Tan

    Email :