Since the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Healthy Cities initiative launched 25 years ago, its urban health approach has evolved from a medicalizing perspective to one that takes all aspects of well-being into account. Early conferences of the Healthy Cities network were attended by cardiologists lobbying for smoking bans. Today, those same participants mingle with urban planners and landscape architects. They consider the social and environmental determinants of health.

Christine McLaren, Happy City’s Director of partnerships, led members of the WHO Healthy Cities network through a workshop that focused on using happiness as a lens to tackle community health issues at the 25th annual International Healthy Cities Conference in Athens, Greece. During the workshop, participants identified opportunities for policy and design interventions in their own communities and crafted high level principles for a happiness-based approach to urban health advocacy.