Close symbol

Five years ago, Sanitas in Spain launched the Healthy Cities Initiative which is aimed at promoting physical and mental wellbeing in parallel with healthier, more sustainable cities.


Central to the initiative is the Healthy Cities Challenge which this year culminates on 30 th September 2020. Over twelve months, more than 40 companies and 160,000 employees in Spain have taken on the challenge of walking at least 10,000 steps every day.

Yolanda Erburu, Chief Corporate Affairs & Sanitas Foundation Officer explains more about the project and the impact of COVID-19.

Building community resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many issues into sharp relief and perhaps the most pressing is the link between our health and the environment. The direct impact of biodiversity loss and the degradation of our ecosystem can be seen in the quick transmission of the virus from animals to humans. Air pollution has also been reported to affect transmission, this is not helped by the fact that there is an acute shortage of green spaces in our cities.

The virus has also undoubtedly been a source of stress and adversity for many people and those with higher resilience, both mental and physical, have responded better to fighting the virus.

We have one question on our minds: how can we help avoid future pandemics and what can we do to help our communities build up resilience to resist any new outbreaks should they arise?

How can we protect our natural capital - key for our future – and at the same time help our community to strengthen the core mental and wellbeing skills required to manage daily life?

Healthy Cities programme

We believe that by scaling up our Healthy Cities programme we can start to offer a solution that addresses both the short and long-term aspects of this situation. Bupa’s Healthy Communities Fund will help us do this.

The Healthy Cities programme aims to develop resilience both in individuals and the wider community, by investing both in healthy lifestyles and in healthy environments. The programme is designed in a way that one unlocks the other and creates a virtuous cycle.

Through a digital platform we are bringing together companies, employees, public institutions, NGOs, associations and foundations to participate in a community challenge that requires a commitment to wellbeing activity which then, in turn, generates investment in an urban regeneration project.

Our ambition is not only to have more impact in Spain but to extend the model throughout Europe and Latin America and generate a truly global response to this global problem.

For more information visit the Healthy Cities website .

Yolanda Rrburu

Yolanda Erburu

Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Global Practice Lead

Related stories