The City of Kigali has been honored with Public Health Laureate for 2019 Wellbeing City Award. This award succeeded the city’s bimonthly car-free day.
This was made know on Thursday by NewCities; a global non-profit organization committed to shaping a better urban future, along with City of Montréal and Novartis Foundation, Novartis US Foundation.
The prestigious award is the first international initiative to recognize and honor city governments that place wellbeing at the center of policymaking and urban planning.
Classified under the Public Health category, the award is reserved for the most progressive and innovative ideas that drive positive changes in cities (small and large), through research, events and urban innovation projects.
The initiative was introduced by the City Hall in 2016. Car-free days have increasingly become known among Kigalians. Even more, the practice has since been introduced many districts across the country.
On car-free days, certain roads are blocked to motorists for several hours. Thousands of citizens jog or cycle in car-free streets before converging at the designated location. Collective physical exercises and medical checkups are done for those who desire. Participants are also urged to take part in social causes such as donating blood.
Officials tout car-free day events as not only beneficial to citizens (since physical activity helps to prevent Non-Communicable Disease). Most noteworthy, they also support green growth efforts.
According to information released by NewCity, it states that “The City of Kigali has been selected for their Kigali Car-free Day. Every first and third Sunday of each month, the Kigalians are urged to leave their cars parked at home and participate in a free community event with medical checkups and sports activities”.
The City Mayor Marie-Chantal Rwakazina, said “We are delighted that the City of Kigali has been chosen as a laureate of the 2019 Wellbeing City Award in the Public Health Category. This is a vote of confidence recognizing Kigali Car Free Day as an activity that promotes wellbeing and healthy living in the city”.
“We thank our citizens who have embraced the Car-Free Days. Also, we thank all our sponsors who have made this initiative a success. We shall continue fostering the wellbeing of our citizens. Even more, we intend to multiply efforts and extend the car-free day”, she added.
NewCities Founder and Chair, John Rossant said, “Wellbeing is improved by bold design, but not founded upon it. The foundation of healthy and happy cities and citizens is proactive policymaking that looks to wellbeing as the central organizing principle”.
He further said that a jury of experts was “excited to see the very commitment from the City of Kigali”.
“We are seeing improvement in popularity around Car-free Days. However, Kigali is taking another step by mobilizing the community around activities that promote and increase wellbeing. It’s fantastic to see. And I congratulate them for being this year’s Public Health laureate”. “it is well deserved”, he further said.
Top officials from the public office, including President Paul Kagame, often participate in Car-free Days.
Aside the Car-Free Day, Kigali also has a Car-Free Zone; a street downtown Kigali restricted from motorists. Space is being used for social networking, interaction and other social activities.
Over 100 cities from 27 countries were considered in the first year of the Award.
Four other cities to have won other Wellbeing City Award categories are Portugal (Sustainable Environment); Pune, India (Economy and Opportunity); Santa Monica, USA; and (Lisbon, and Milan, Italy (Wellbeing City). The annual award is backed-up by the City of Montréal, Transdev, US Green Building Council and Toyota Mobility Foundation.
It’s expected that a formal ceremony acknowledging the Wellbeing City Laureates will be held on the 19th to 20th of June. The ceremony will take place at The Wellbeing Cities Forum in Montréal.
The Wellbeing City Award is the first global award acknowledging city-led action on urban wellbeing.
New Cities concluded that it “creates a global dialogue and curates cutting-edge knowledge on the world’s most progressive urban crises to generate and scale ideas and solutions”.