Songyang County, Lishui City, China, 1 November 2021 – International experts from more than a dozen countries attending an urban-rural linkages forum discussed the importance of incorporating health as a key dimension of territorial-spatial planning and governance.

The second International Forum on Urban-Rural Linkages (IFURL), attended by 200 participants from 19 countries on 19th and 20th of Octoberwas co-organised by UN-Habitat and the Songyang County, part of Lishui city.

IFURL is one of the key activities of UN-Habitat’s Urban-Rural Linkages programme which aims to collect, capture, analyse and promote the inspiring practices implemented in Songyang County, among other territories in the world. This year’s forum was held under the theme “Integrating Health and Territorial Development for Sustainable Livelihoods”.

Due to travel restrictions, the forum was held in a hybrid format, with international speakers and audience connecting online and domestic speakers and audience participating in the venue in Songyang County.

In her remarks, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat Maimunah Mohd Sharif highlighted that “re-examining health and well-being through the lens of urban-rural linkages can be crucial in designing healthy resilient and sustainable human settlements in line with SDG 11.” She also introduced the tools that UN-Habitat has developed to support member states to integrate urban-rural linkages into their national and subnational policies.

Remy Sietchiping, Chief of the Policy, Legislation and Governance Section of UN-Habitat said Songyang has become “a model and a living example” in promoting rural revitalisation,to protect and preserve rural culture and heritage, and promote healthy living and economic development. He said, “Songyang’s experience in rural revitalisation can serve as an inspiration for other emerging small and intermediary settlements around the world.”

The opening ceremony was followed by keynote speeches. Firdaous Oussidhoum, special adviser to the Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), said, “Global resilience has to be the key driver for any thought, any action and policy that will be developed. The climate emergency needs a territorial action that encompasses a balance between the urban and the rural as a yin-yang balance, a component of one entity, integrating culture as a driver to this resilient balance.” UCLG is a global network of regional, metropolitan and local governments.

Vicente Ruiz, economist at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said, “We need to take into account the importance of multi-level governance. In many cases where we need the cooperation between urban and rural areas, that’s hard to take place without the intervention of higher-level authority to coordinate, reduce coordinative costs, and promote a more fruitful dialogue.”

The keynote speeches were followed by the session “The Built Environment and Health”. 

The second day of the Forum featured field visits, art exhibition, and thematic sessions on “Public Health, Sustainable Healthy Diets and Food Systems”, “Traditional Medicine, Local Knowledge and Culture”, “Health as a Key Dimension of Territorial Planning and Governance”, and “Lessons learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic and Crisis Management”.

This year’s IFURL also focused on sharing recent experiences and good practices in the prevention and containment of infectious diseases and the post-outbreak recovery measures in urban, rural and peri-urban areas, and highlight the relevance and importance of urban-rural linkages in public health to promote well-being for all.

The 1st IFURL, themed “Rural Revitalization through Innovations and Valorisation”, took place in Songyang County from 11th to 13th November 2019.

For more information on the Forum, please visit