Becoming the most active city in the world.
It’s a big statement, and a vision that London Sport has championed for the capital since we came into being in 2014. But, objectively, on the day we become the most active city, how will we know? More importantly, how do we get there? And what are the ways that it doing so would change Londoners’ lives for the better?
The Active Citizens Worldwide initiative – of which London was a Founding City at its launch in February 2018 – exists to provide some of the answers, and this week brought experts from Singapore and Auckland to London to share learning and experiences from global cities across the world.
What we’re beginning to learn should offer some encouragement.
Firstly: London has something powerful in common with its global siblings: we believe in, and invest in sport for its ability to support stronger lives for our citizens. The challenges we each face differ, but we share that sport is part of the solution.
Secondly: all parts of a city’s system have a role to play. From planning and facilities, to transport, public health, education and community sport, physical activity is a powerful lever for policymakers.
Thirdly: we share a willingness to learn from one another. Our cities differ, in size, geography, population and political system. But despite those differences, we recognise the opportunity to learn from what works in other cities. We may want London to become the world’s most active city, but in doing so we can work to support the ambitions of others around the world.
And perhaps most importantly: grassroots sport is an irreplaceable part of what makes an active city. The work of groups that use sport as a way to support communities across London is fundamental to supporting active Londoners.
By taking our city counterparts to visit projects like Transform Wellness, and The Black Prince Trust Community Hub, we don’t just humanise city data; we shine a light on work that goes to the heart of physical activity in the capital.
As Active Citizens Worldwide progresses, it will continue to teach us more.
Later this year, Active Citizens Worldwide will feature at the World Cities Summit in Singapore. At the same time, the project will publish the first Benchmark Report, giving an indication of our first findings. In many ways, the Active Citizens Worldwide journey has only just begun.
Did it begin in the place that will become the world’s most active city? Time will tell.