Today, two thirds of the 415 million people with diabetes live in cities. Urban diabetes is an emergency in slow motion, but its growth is not inevitable. Cities Changing Diabetes is a commitment to pushing for urgent action against urban diabetes on a global scale. The aim is to map its extent, share solutions and tackle the growing challenge of diabetes in the world’s great cities, because we believe that when businesses, city leaders and planners, healthcare professionals, academics, and community leaders pull together, we can transform our cities into healthier places to live, work and play – and bring down the risk of urban diabetes.





Cities Changing Diabetes is a response to the dramatic rise in urban diabetes across the world. It is a first-of-its-kind partnership platform for cross-disciplinary, cross-sector collaboration.

No one organisation and no one company can solve the challenge alone, so the programme is built on public-private partnerships between businesses, city leaders and planners, architects, healthcare professionals, academics, community leaders and others with a stake in the outcome. Working together we are setting out to create cities which help us live more healthily, and where people with diabetes can live life to the full.


  1. Put urban diabetes at the top of the global healthcare agenda. Experience has shown that it is possible to have great impact on the rise of a potentially devastating disease when healthcare systems are mobilised to see it as an urgent priority. By putting the spotlight on the scale and urgency of the issue in many cities across the world, we can help health systems to prioritise the challenge of urban diabetes.
  2. Put it on the agenda of those designing and managing cities for the future. Urban planning has an important role to play in delivering health improvements in the way it designs and reshapes our cities. By helping those who design and manage cities to understand the dynamics of urban diabetes, we can equip them to develop healthier cities for the future.


Today, not enough is known about the dynamics of how urban development can drive diabetes, and how to deliver the potential health benefits that city living can bring. However, with the Cities Changing Diabetes Briefing Book we can contextualize the urban diabetes situation and give a global overview of the challenges associated with urban diabetes.

The Briefing Book serves as a central document for the Cities Changing Diabetes Programme and serves as a strong engagement tool that contributes to provide both new and existing stakeholders with a common understanding of the severity of urban diabetes.





        The programme is structured to understand the driving factors behind the rise of diabetes in urban areas, and to share that knowledge and apply it to real-world solutions. The programme has three interconnected elements:



        We have set out to map the problem in a number of ‘study cities’ across the world. We have decided to start the programme by generating a body of collective knowledge about urban diabetes: what’s working today, where are the challenges and the priorities for the future.



        We will share the results from these cities in order to drive wider action around the world. We will continuously share what is learnt and connect the dots between cities, so that everyone involved can gain from the experience and knowledge of others – and create solutions for their own local needs. We will use our influence and global networks to drive the issue of urban diabetes up the agenda worldwide.



        We will work with partners to identify and scale up solutions to tackle diabetes in cities. The programme will enable us to catalyse action. In the study cities, we will play our part in helping to develop action plans. And across the world the learnings will equip a wide range of partners in taking concerted and focused action on the ground in cities through health promotion and urban design.


Global partners

Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk is at the forefront of one oftoday’s great health challenges: diabetes. As specialists in diabetes treatment, we’re committed to finding the next generation of medicines through long-term investment in innovation. Our key contribution is to discover and develop these medicines, manufacture them to scale and make them accessible wherever they are needed. But living with chronic disease is about more than getting the right medicine. That’s why we’re working on helping people to receive the right treatment and achieve the right outcomes. We are committed to playing our part in the global fight against diabetes, and Cities Changing Diabetes is at the heart of this commitment.

For more information visit novonordisk.com.



Over the last few years, UCL has put its weight behind understanding the impacts of urbanisation. Under the banner of its ‘Grand Challenge’ commitments to Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction, and Human Wellbeing, a cross-disciplinary group has sought to contribute to urban sustainability by identifying health vulnerabilities and addressing the modifiable risk factors that can reduce the impact of NCDs globally. We are delighted to bring our expertise to bear through supporting research that will underpin Cities Changing Diabetes. More than that, our approach is aimed at making an impact that is sustainable into the future, giving new momentum to this global initiative.

For more information, visit ucl.ac.uk




Steno Diabetes Center

Steno Diabetes Center is a world leading institution in diabetes care and prevention, with a focus on the early stages of the disease. Established by Novo Nordisk A/S in 1932, we are a not for profit organisation working in partnership with the Danish healthcare system. We treat around 5600 people with diabetes. As a partner in Cities Changing Diabetes we draw on our experience in creating innovative and sustainable approaches to tackling diabetes at the community level, our work training healthcare professional in cities across the world and our expertise in providing care in Copenhagen. We believe we can make a significant contribution to the fight against urban diabetes.

For more information, visit steno.dk



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