Commitment, Collaboration & Continuity: Celebrating Cork as a Healthy City

As Cork celebrates more than a decade as a World Health Organisation (WHO) Healthy City, a new book is being published celebrating this achievement.

Commitment, Collaboration & Continuity: Celebrating Cork as a Healthy City showcases the projects partnered with or led by Cork Healthy Cities so that other cities and urban spaces across Ireland can enhance the lives of their city dwellers.

By 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities and Cork is one of Ireland’s rapidly growing cities with population projections estimating that the city grows by 50% to 335,000 by 2040.

In order to meet the health needs of a growing population and to meet to challenges of exacerbating health inequalities and the climate emergency, the designation of Cork by the WHO in 2012 set the scene for the city to embrace in a tangible way the evidence that health is influenced by the context of our daily lives, including where we live, work, play, and learn.

Cork’s designation as a WHO Healthy City emerged from a partnership between the Health Service Executive Health Promotion Department, Cork City Council, Northside Initiative for Community Health Education (NICHE) and University College Cork.


The importance of local action

A key goal of the WHO Healthy Cities initiative world-wide has been the importance of local action in all aspects of developing health and wellbeing. An unequivocal commitment to a set of values – political leadership, community development, equity, social inclusion, and policy development – are what sets the healthy cities movement apart. It is an approach that has reaped significant benefits for Cork over the past decade.


Now a new book, the first of its kind being published in Ireland and across Europe – Commitment, Collaboration & Continuity: Celebrating Cork as a Healthy City – highlights this intersectoral approach and showcases the key projects in Cork that have changed the dial to develop Cork as one of Ireland’s most liveable cities.


“In this book readers will learn about a number of projects and initiatives partnered with or led by Cork Healthy Cities, which started from 2012 and have initiated a transformation of the lives of communities in the city. An example of one such project is Green Spaces for Health, which started in 2018 coordinated by Maria Young, and has initiated and supports 17 (and counting) projects, including community gardens. This is the first project of its kind in Cork and has resulted in a number of life-changing health impacts for communities including increased local food availability, community cohesion and support, and the critical mental health benefits that flourish when communities engage with green spaces together in a neighbourhood,” states Monica O’Mullane.


“We wanted to develop a book that would not only showcase our work but to inspire and guide other cities and counties across Ireland and in fact Europe.  This book is unique, we hope it will act as a useful guide to how you can change lives through innovative and creative partnerships and projects at city level.  It sets out the ambitious journey we undertook since 2010; the highs and the lows and the learning along the way” states Denise Cahill.


A showcase of projects

 Cork Healthy Cities is partnered with a number of innovative projects. They exemplify the approach to collaborative and community-oriented working the movement has been driven by for more than a decade. Below are some examples of current projects. Site visits to these projects as part of any media piece is a possibility:


  • Community Garden in Togher and the growing group in Pairc Eoin
  • Marina – pedestrianised and play installations along the greenway
  • New Food Hub in Whites Cross – a farmer planning to diversify to organic growing
  • Clean Air Zone in the pedestrianised City Centre
  • Parklet on Douglas Street and interview with the Cork Flower Studio who maintain it
  • Seed Library in Hollyhill where seeds are borrowed and replaced every year
  • Sexual Health Centre
  • Comhairle na nOg or Creative Youth gathering with a delegation from Tokyo (March 29th) in UCC as part of child Friendly Cities initiatives and international connections


The launch of the book was simultaneously a night to launch the book and to celebrate the work of Cork Healthy Cities since its inception in 2009. Martin Davoren, co-author, and current Chair of Cork Healthy Cities steering Group was our fantastic MC for the evening. The book was officially launched by Lord Mayor Kieran McCarthy, also co-author of chapter 2 ’The Future of Public Health and Cork Healthy Cities,’ as well as many of our firmest champions from across Cork City Council, HSE, WHO, Togher Community Garden, and UCC with Professor Ella Arensman (School of Public Health) and Professor Maggie O’Neill (ISS2 and CSF). We are so grateful for the funding for the book from Cork City Council, Cork Healthy Cities, Cork City Libraries and ISS21, UCC.


The book is available to borrow from any Cork City Library and to buy for €20 in the UCC bookstore and Waterstones in Cork city. It will also be available in Brookfield Library, UCC, and in all Cork city libraries.