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Urban form and sustainability (Thursday 21 February, 2013)

Most New Zealanders live in cities. The New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities has just been awarded a four-year Resilient Urban Futures Programme grant by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. This programme involves five universities, NIWA and Motu; end-users from local and central government; iwi, developers and community groups all coming together to further our understanding and knowledge of the city as a complex system, and exploring ways to make the city more resilient. The programme will investigate which of several possible urban futures in the new green economy will be the most resilient, liveable and competitive and how to achieve these goals.

Two distinguished international leaders in the greening of cities, Dr Carlos Dora, WHO Environmental health leader, and Professor Tony Capon, Canberra University will launch our programme and provide the international context for our work.  In this workshop, researchers and local council partners will discuss the four funded research strands and research projects within them. This will open an opportunity for interested others to engage with our research over the next four years. The Director, Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman will provide an overview.

Topics covered

Strand 1: Urban development trajectories
The Drivers of Urban Change: Philippa will discuss challenges relating to the definition and analysis of the drivers of urban change.

The Shape of Development: Associate Professor Ralph Chapman, Victoria University of Wellington, will outline a project to compare the broad costs and benefits of two possible development paths, one emphasising more compact residential development and the other emphasising more green-field development. He will discuss the framing of case studies of a range of cities, including Auckland and Christchurch.

Modelling housing, transportation and land use: Dr Pengjun Zhao, University of Otago, Wellington, and Peking University, Beijing, will describe early results of a modelling exercise for Wellington city region.

Analysing active transport modes: Dr Michael Keall, University of Otago Wellington, will discuss how we are assessing city initiatives to encourage active transport – walking and cycling.

Social Inclusion: Professor Karen Witten, Massey University, will explore the way spatial patterns of development can contribute to social inclusion, particularly of children

Strand 2: Urban environmental impacts
Water and Air Quality: Dr Gus Olivares, NIWA, will discuss the importance of water and air quality in urban development and outline how urban air pollution exposure and urban water impacts will be modelled.

Strand 3: Inter-urban infrastructure links
Transport and infrastructure patterns: Dr Arthur Grimes, Motu, will explore the inter-connection between North Island port connections and broadband in the context of the New Zealand Infrastructure Plan.

Strand 4: Iwi role in urban development
Iwi, governance and urban development: Keriata Stuart, will discuss the role of iwi, before and after Treaty settlements, and outline the important questions of governance and economic development with city councils.

Who should attend?

Researchers, councillors and council officers, iwi, media, community workers, developers and the public interested in the important question of the shape and resilience of urban development.

Teaching staff


  • Dr Carlos Dora manages WHO's global programme of work on health in sector policies and health impact assessment (HIA), including housing, transport, energy, and the extractive industries. His unit – Interventions for Healthy Environments - is responsible for the Organization's work on occupational health and environmental health hazards associated with radiation and air pollution. His unit is also responsible for mainstreaming environmental performance criteria into the design and delivery of health care activities, including for WHO's own technical work in countries.

    Prior to this position, Dr Dora worked as a senior policy advisor for Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland while she was Director-General of WHO.

    Dr Dora was an early champion of health in sector policies and HIA when he worked at the WHO European Regional Office and help establish a programme on transport, health and the environment. Dr Dora was also instrumental in the negotiations to include provisions for HIA and health systems engagement in the UNECE Protocol on Strategic Environment Assessments (2004). the European Inter-Ministerial Conference in 1999.

    Before joining WHO, Dr Dora worked on environmental epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, consulted for the World Bank on Non-Communicable Diseases, and before that piloted models for quality community medicine in Southern Brazil. He is a medical doctor, has a Master’s degree and a PhD in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

    His publications include numerous articles on HIA and health in sustainable development, a book on health risk communications and another on the health impacts of transport policies. More recently he led a series of analyses on the health co-benefits of policies to mitigate climate change in different sectors of the economy. He is currently engaged in the development of health indicators for sustainable development goals in light of forthcoming SDGs. He has been a visiting professor at the Chinese Academy of Transportation Sciences.


  • Professor Anthony Capon is the head of the Discipline of Public Health in the Faculty of Health at the University of Canberra. He is a public health physician with expertise in health promotion and environmental health. His research focuses on urban health and sustainability and he is currently working with the International Council for Science Unions (ICSU) to develop a new global interdisciplinary science program on systems approaches to health and wellbeing in the changing urban environment. Tony has held NHMRC and WHO fellowships and has extensive experience in public health leadership positions in Australia and internationally.

philippa howden chapman photo

  • Philippa Howden-Chapman is a professor of public health at the University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand, where she teaches public policy. She is director of He Kainga Oranga/ Housing and Health Research Programme and the New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities. She has conducted a number of randomised community housing trials in partnership with local communities, which have had a major influence on housing, health and energy policy. She has a strong interest in reducing inequalities in the determinants of health and has published widely in this area, receiving a number of awards for her work. She is currently the chair of the WHO Housing and Health Guideline Development Group and is on the Children Commissioner’s Expert Working Group on Child Poverty.

Course cost

public health summer school registernow

$300 early bird, $400 after 21 December 2012.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

For further information contact:
Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, email: