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Building Healthy Cities Resource Bin

Special Edition: Urban Health Systems 

Week of June 22, 2021

This email provides a weekly summary of collected resources that are relevant to BHC's activities. The full content can be found at the individual links below or upon request. If there are resources you would like to share with the BHC team, please send them to Lauren Azmon at

New Resource Bin Content

Tomorrow Building Healthy Cities and USAID are hosting a workshop in preparation for the 17th International Conference on Urban Health titled Synthesizing Investment Opportunities for Strengthening Urban Health Systems. This workshop invites urban health systems practitioners, researchers, donors, and civil society partners to join a discussion on the state of current practice and research. This consultation aims to provide a forum to document and synthesize current evidence, identify knowledge gaps, and develop guidance from methodologies used thus far. Register to join us! 

This resource bin features documents authored or co-authored by the workshop facilitators and other relevant research around urban health systems. 


Title:  Local Systems: A framework for supporting sustained development 
Source:  USAID (Co-authored by Tjip Walker)
Publication Date: April 2014 
Summary and content relevant to BHC:
The focus on local systems is rooted in the reality that achieving and sustaining any development outcome depends on the contributions of multiple and interconnected actors. Building the capacity of a single actor or strengthening a single relationship is insufficient. Rather, the focus must be on the system as a whole: the actors, their interrelationships and the incentives that guide them. Realizing improved development outcomes emanates from increasing the performance of multiple actors and the effectiveness of their interactions. And sustaining development outcomes depends on the sustainability of the local system— specifically, its built-in durability and adaptability that allows actors and their interrelationships to accommodate shocks and respond to changing circumstances.

Title: What Can Policy-Makers Get Out of Systems Thinking? Policy Partners’ Experiences of a Systems-Focused Research Collaboration in Preventive Health
Source: International Journal of Health Policy and Management
Authors: Abby Haynes; Kate Garvey; Seanna Davidson; Andrew Milat
Publication Date: February, 2020
Summary and content relevant to BHC:
In-depth interviews were conducted with 18 policy-makers who are participating in an Australian research collaboration that uses a systems approach. Our aim was to explore factors that support policy-makers to use systems approaches, and to identify any impacts of systems thinking on policy thinking or action, including the pathways through which these impacts occurred. The results show that researchers and policy-makers can put systems thinking into action as part of a research collaboration, and that this can result in discernible impacts on policy processes. In this case, action-oriented collaboration and capacity development over a 5-year period facilitated mutual learning and practical application. This indicates that policy-makers can get substantial applied value from systems thinking when they are involved in extended co-production processes that target policy impact and are supported by responsive capacity strategies.

Title: COVID-19 reveals the systemic nature of urban health globally
Source: United Nations Environment Program
Author: Franz Gatzweiler, et. al. 
Publication Date: 24 Jul 2020
Summary and content relevant to BHC:
An approach to emergency response that takes advantage of the scale of urban systems, could have mitigated some of the disastrous impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. The scientific committee* of the International Science Council’s Program on Urban Health and Wellbeing consider what cities can learn from one another about containing a pandemic and how principles for urban health in the Xiamen Call for Action can be applied to help cities better prepare for and mitigate the impacts of future outbreaks.

Title: Systems Practice Workbook
Source: Engaging Inquiry 
Publication Date: April  2017
Summary and content relevant to BHC:
This workbook is for people working on complex problems across any field of social change who want to make sustainable social impact, whether working at a community or  global scale. It walks through a rigorous version of a systems practice, which will prepare you to be a discerning user of other systems tools that can complement this approach. 

Title: Tackling obesities: future choices
Source: Government Office for Science and Department of Health and Social Care 
Publication Date:17 October 2007
Summary and content relevant to BHC:
This project looked at how to implement a sustainable response to obesity in the UK over the next 40 years. It gathered scientific evidence from across a wide range of disciplines to inform a strategic view of this issue. The contents of this page in the project reports, reviews, research, the systems map, scenarios
and modelling. 

Title: Loops and Building Blocks: a Knowledge co-Production Framework for Equitable Urban Health
Source: Journal of urban health 
Author: Audia, Camilla et al.
Publication Date: 24 Jul 2020
Summary and content relevant to BHC:
This paper sets out a structured process for the co-production of knowledge between researchers and societal partners and illustrates its application in an urban health equity project in Accra, Ghana. The main insight of this approach is that research and knowledge co-production is always partial, both in the sense of being incomplete, as well as being circumscribed by the interests of participating researchers and societal partners. A second insight is that project-bound societal engagement takes place in a broader context of public and policy debate. The approach to co-production described here is formed of three recursive processes: co-designing, co-analysing, and co-creating knowledge. These ‘co-production loops’ are themselves iterative, each representing a stage of knowledge production. Each loop is operationalized through a series of research and engagement practices, which we call building blocks. Building blocks are activities and interaction-based methods aimed at bringing together a range of participants involved in joint knowledge production. In practice, recursive iterations within loops may be limited due of constraints on time, resources, or attention. We suggest that co-production loops and building blocks are deployed flexibly.
BHC is a five-year cooperative agreement funded by the United States Agency for International Development under Agreement No. AID-OAA-A-17-00028, beginning September 30, 2017. BHC is implemented by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) with partners International Organization for Migration, Thrive Networks Global, and Urban Institute, and with support from Engaging Inquiry, LLC.
For up-to-date project news, visit our website or search #BuildingHealthyCities on Twitter. All platforms are linked below.
Copyright © 2021 JSI Research & Training, Inc., All rights reserved.

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