Policies for healthy living environments



This initiative maps the implementation of promising policies across Europe that help create health-enabling living environments.

This initiative maps the implementation of a select number of promising public health policies at the national level in all European Union (EU) Member States, as well as the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. While this initiative focuses on mapping national activities, it also aptly shows the benefits that can be achieved by ambitious and appropriate EU-wide action.

The choice of policies selected for inclusion in this initiative is based on a mixed method that draws on the best available evidence, informed opinion and endorsement by reputable institutions such as the World Health Organization.

While the policies are listed separately, it is important to note that no policy alone can be a ‘silver bullet’ and only a comprehensive set of policies and actions can deliver for the creation of healthy living environments. Current issues, for example the conditions that restrict people’s freedom to have balanced and diverse diets, to enjoy safe and comfortable active travel options or enjoy stable housing will not be solved with any one policy intervention. The interaction between policies and the impacts observed when implemented simultaneously is likely to be greater than implementing any of them in isolation. Nonetheless, comprehensive strategies are built-up of individual policy components.

It should be noted that the mapping does not address the quality of policy design or the extent to which policies are enforced.

It also does not provide a comparative assessment of the effectiveness of national policy frameworks.


This initiative maps the implementation of policies across European Union (EU) countries, as well as the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

The following selection criteria guide the inclusion of policies. Policies should:

  • Be justified by existing evidence – authoritative;
  • Convey a sense of ambition compared to the ‘status quo’ – ambitious;
  • Be able to help reshape living environments so that a significant share of the population, in particular less well-off groups, can benefit  – society-wide;
  • Be able to fit into a comprehensive policy strategy – complementary;
  • Be recommended for implementation in any country – relevant;
  • Be easily and transparently identifiable – transparent.

Only when policies are implemented (entered into force), the country or region will be highlighted in bright orange on the map. When a policy has been adopted, but is not yet in force, for instance due to a transition period, it will be highlighted in light orange on the map.

When a concrete policy process is ongoing in a country, this will be highlighted in the ‘in progress’ section, but not on the map.

The initiative does not address the quality of policy design.

With special thanks to Cecilia Laura Kolding Andersen, Laura Wetzel and Dr. May Van Schalkwyk. Views and opinions in this project are attributable to EPHA only.

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