Bax & Company’s Sofia Aivalioti tours frontrunner cities as Lead Expert for Europe’s One Health transition
Following the pandemic, there has been a renewed energy to consider health and wellbeing from a holistic perspective. It was an important reminder that the health of animals, people, and the environment are tangled up together and that we need a One Health approach to the way cities grow and develop.
– Sofia Aivalioti
URBACT Lead Expert and Innovation Consultant Sofia Aivalioti has had a busy few months. Having recently finished her ninth trip to a European city participating in the European Union-funded One Healthy 4 Cities project, she has seen the full range of social and health innovations making cities healthier for all their inhabitants – human, flora, and fauna alike. From doctors to urban planners to community organisers, she’s spent the last five months talking to the stakeholders who will deliver the future of Europe’s urban health policies.
“Approaches to health in our cities are changing” said Sofia “Following the pandemic, there has been a renewed energy to consider health and wellbeing from a holistic perspective. It was an important reminder that the health of animals, people, and the environment are tangled up together and that we need a One Health approach to the way cities grow and develop”.
Sofia’s final advisory trip was to the small city of Benissa in the East of Spain. Along with Marlene Dussauge from lead partner the City of Lyon, she was welcomed by Benissa mayor, Arturo Poquet and local Councilor for European Projects, Jorge Ivars. The visit toured several strategic locations, including the Solana area, the future Beniver biosaludable park, La Fustera beach, and the Aula del Mar. They also evaluated the most prominent points of the Historic Center of Benissa from a health perspective.
“One Health 4 Cities represents an important step towards how we plan the urban spaces where we live” said Sofia. “By fostering collaboration across European cities, we’re not just sharing knowledge and resources; we are framing our thinking in a way where the health of our communities, environment, and economies are deeply interconnected and equally prioritised.”
“Being part of this initiative underlines the City Council’s commitment to moving towards a more sustainable and healthy municipality,” said Benissa’s mayor Arturo Poquet, when interviewed for a feature on the visit by local news site Benissa Digital.
The visit to Benissa marked the initial stages of the URBACT project, backed by the European Union, which held their first transnational core meeting in Lyon, earlier in November. Jorge Ivars explained that the objective of the project is “to find synergies among European cities to draw up a roadmap that promotes urban health as a fundamental element in the progress of our cities and municipalities.”
“For smaller cities like Benissa, collaborations like One Health 4 Cities enrich local thinking with access to leading experts across Europe. We’re proud of Sofia’s work as an URBACT Lead Expert, where she can share her experiences at Bax & Company and beyond to inspire the next wave of One Health policies in cities,” said Sebastiaan van Herk, CEO of Bax & Company.
The URBACT One Health 4 Cities network is led by Lyon (France), along with Suceava (Romania), Eurometropolis Strasbourg (France), Kuopio (Finland), Loulé (Portugal), Lahti (Finland), Benissa (Spain), Elefsina (Greece) and Munich (Germany). Sofia Aivalioti is the Lead Expert on the project.
Learn more about One Health from Sofia
Talk to Sofia to learn more about One Health 4 Cities. Sofia is a project manager and consultant in the Urban Environment and Healthy Cities team at Bax & Company, working on award-winning EU projects that focus on green-blue infrastructure, social innovation, and biodiversity in urban areas.