Deepti Adlakha Research Published in Lancet Global Health Series

NLI Director, Dr. Deepti Adlakha’s latest research work was published as The Lancet Global Health Series on Urban Design, Transport and Health. Dr. Adlakha is an Executive Member of the Global Healthy and Sustainable City-Indicators Collaboration, an international network of collaborators with expertise in public health, urban and transport planning, urban design, architecture, geospatial science, behavioral science, statistics, epidemiology, and public policy. This Series assesses city planning policies and the urban design and transport features of 25 cities across each continent, with the aim to inform policy directions for more healthy, sustainable cities worldwide.

The team of more than 80 researchers in 25 cities across 19 countries used standardized methods to assess the policy settings and lived experiences of city-dwellers. They identified thresholds for urban design and transport features that would increase active transport and promote health and used spatial indicators to assess the health-supporting nature and sustainability of each city and identify inequities in access.

The new research used indicators such as proximity to public transport and food, walkability, city density, and policy settings to determine how healthy and sustainable are the cities of Maiduguri, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Baltimore, Phoenix, Seattle, Hong Kong, Chennai, Bangkok, Hanoi, Graz, Ghent, Bern, Olomouc, Cologne, Odense, Barcelona, Valencia, Vic, Belfast, Lisbon, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Auckland. The research published in TLGH is supported by reports and scorecards that present assessments for each city, available at This series presents a first step toward the development of a global system of policy and spatial indicators for healthy and sustainable cities using tools the group has created.

A public launch webinar will be hosted on May 12th (register at the link below). In this Webinar, the Series authors, led by Prof. Billie Giles-Corti, will present their work which follows on from the 2016 Lancet Series, and will be joined by an external panel of stakeholders to discuss what the recommendations mean for them. There will be an opportunity at the end to ask questions.

How did you first get involved with this project?

In 2018, at the 7th International Society for Physical Activity and Health held in London, the World Health Organization launched its global physical activity strategy for ‘More Active People for a Healthier World’, and the multidisciplinary Global Healthy and Sustainable City-Indicators Collaboration was established. I have been an Executive Member of the Collaboration since 2018. At meetings of the International Physical Environment Network (IPEN) and the Council of the Environment and Physical Activity (ISPAH CEPA), we recruited collaborators in 25 cities in 19 countries and six continents to participate in this study.

What was your role during this project?

I am an Executive Member of the Global Healthy and Sustainable City-Indicators Collaboration and the co-author of The Lancet Global Health Series on Urban Design, Transport, and Health.

What was the most interesting artifact you discovered during this project?

Urban design and planning decisions affect human and planetary health and amplify urban vulnerabilities. Our team developed a scalable framework with standardized methods and open-source tools that can be used by other cities to benchmark and monitor progress towards being healthy and sustainable. This framework can create upstream policy and spatial indicators to benchmark and track progress, unmask spatial inequities, inform investments, and accelerate transitions to net-zero, healthy, and sustainable cities worldwide. It offers a roadmap for city leaders to act quickly, plan for future urban growth, and provide equitable infrastructure, services, and amenities.

Are there plans to expand this project further in the future (describe)?

We calling for a 1000-cities challenge to activate a global citizen science program and incentivize the collection of open data and create city planning indicators to improve the knowledge base and inform decision-making, with a focus on the most data-scarce areas. These indicators could be used by global agencies to assess progress toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

How do you feel that this project will influence future personal and NLI research?

This project advances my research agenda in pursuing cross-cutting solutions to urban health problems by generating, translating, and scaling up evidence for reducing health inequities in underserved populations. It is also aligned with NLI’s focus on the design of places and landscapes, specifically parks, and green spaces, and their role in the promotion of human and planetary health.

About The Lancet Global Health

The Lancet Global Health is an internationally trusted source of global health knowledge. The open-access journal publishes robustly designed original research on all aspects of global health, with a focus on disadvantaged populations, be they whole economic regions or marginalized groups within otherwise prosperous nations. Topics include but are not limited to reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health; infectious diseases, including neglected tropical diseases; non-communicable diseases; mental health; the global health workforce; health systems; surgery; and health policy.