Integrated Urban Planning for Sustainable Development in the HEAT Project

A central component of the HEAT project is the idea of working with integrated urban development for healthier, more active and inclusive urban communities. Integrated urban planning is closely related to sustainable development and the recognition of the importance of a balanced development between society, economy and the environment (Milojević, 2018). The seminal Brundtland Report, also known as Our Common Future, published by the UN in 1987 set perhaps the most widely used definition of sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition of sustainable development underlines the importance of taking multiple perspectives into account in development processes, and by extension our urban planning processes, in recognition that these policies need to serve the needs of many.

In the public domain, Integrated urban planning can entail both a horizontal integration or “‘joining up’ of different public policy domains and their associated actors within a given territorial area” (Kidd, 2007, pp. 164) as well as a vertical integration between local, regional and national authorities (Kidd, 2007). This process may be seen as a state of ‘policy coordination’ with ‘policy integration’ being the end goal wherein different but related public policy domains’ efforts are aligned to achieve common goals (Tornberg, 2011). An example of this type of policy integration is the use of the WHOs Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) in urban planning processes to harmonize policy domains relating to public health and mobility. The HEAT project has been working towards the integration of health in urban planning by conducting HEAT calculations in the cities and regions of Tartu, Jurmala, Southwest Finland and the Stockholm Region to raise awareness of the socio-economic value of active mobility. 

However, integrated urban planning also entails taking different perspectives into account in a broader sense than just policy integration. Planning that is in line with sustainable development needs to be both a technical and a socio-political process that strives to improve the quality of citizens’ lives, both current and future (Milojević, 2018). And in order to achieve these goals, planners must have insight into the perspectives and needs of different communities and groups of people, necessitating participation by these groups in the planning process. Participative planning with various stakeholder groups to capture these multiple perspectives and integrating them into the planning process is thereby a cornerstone of integrated urban planning as well as sustainable development. To this end, the HEAT project has been exploring the use of different methods of digital participation and interactive workshops for urban planning to reach the views of different stakeholder groups in ordet to include these in urban planning processes.

Participatory planning processes with multiple stakeholder groups as well as policy coordination (and finally integration) are key to sustainable development and the harmonisation of society, economy and ecology. Through integrated urban planning, planners can ensure that their work contributes to communities that are inclusive, active and sustainable for all current and future generations.   

Emilia Sternberg, Cykelfrämjandet



Kidd, S. (2007): Towards a Framework of Integration in Spatial Planning: An Exploration from a Health Perspective. Planning Theory & Practice, 8(2), 161-181. 


Tornberg, P. (2011). Making Sense of Integrated Planning: Challenges to Urban and Transport Planning Processes in Sweden. Doctoral thesis. Royal Institute of Technology, KTH.

United Nations (1987). Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future. Oxford University Press.