HSO@CSPS seminar ‘Health promotion as resilience building’ by Uta Dietrich

Organised by HSO@CSPS
Venue B0062, Leeuwenborch (Hollandse weg 1, Wageningen)

Seminar 'Health promotion as resilience building' by Uta Dietrich, Think City, Malaysia

I would like to share some of my health promotion journey and focus on three initiatives that are at different scale, in different cultural contexts and on different priorities. Improving social justice through systems thinking is a common thread.

  1. Example 1: Sustain Northern Rivers (SNR) – building community resilience to climate change

As more and more insights on the impact of climate change on health emerged in the early 2000’s, the government Health Promotion Unit in Northern NSW, Australia, was the key driver in kick starting a climate change collaboration of regional organisations. Sustain Northern Rivers meant to be a collaborative platform that consults, collaborates and communicates to empower local communities to become self-sustaining. It focussed on food, transport, energy and behavioural change. This initiative led to a number of emergent initiatives.

  1. Example 2: K2K – increasing liveability in public housing in Malaysia

K2K stands for Kita untuk Kita (we for ourselves). Housing policies in Malaysia have been successful in reducing urban slums by moving people into various housing schemes. To this day focus remains on supply and access and hardly on liveability. Decay of hard and soft infrastructure is a risk to residents’ lives as well as development of the country. Various initiatives have been launched involving multiple partners & sectors on three focus areas: improve quality of life, improve livelihoods and strengthen management systems. This initiative was implemented during Covid-19 restrictions that hit the vulnerable public housing community very hard.

  1. Example 3:

Penang is the implementation site of Malaysia’s first municipality-wide climate adaptation plan funded by the Adaptation Fund. The main goal of the programme, that is the brain child of Think City, is to enhance urban resilience and reduce human and ecosystem health vulnerability to climate change impacts and extreme weather events by implementing nature-based solutions (NBS) to reduce surface temperatures and storm water runoff. The programme also seeks to increase social resilience and build institutional capacity. Following the devastating floods at the end of 2022, it is much easier to engage with relevant stakeholders and consider other programmes in new localities.


  1. How does this work compare with the Netherlands
  2. Where do you see synergies and opportunities?
  3. Organisations like Think City need research partners for various reasons, such as helping to embed design in a theoretical framework, evaluation and knowledge transfer. And there are also benefits for Universities to partner. What is the interest, capacity and are the funding requirements and timelines to do so?
  4. Can you share are examples of the centre’s initiatives that you feel relate very closely to what I have presented and what were your insights?
  5. A very specific question, is there any expertise or interest in developing a participatory/visual tool for measuring liveability in public housing estates?

Uta Dietrich is currently working remotely from Breda as the Advisor, Social Resilience and Urban Health at Think City, as social impact organisation based in Malaysia (Home - Think City). Her 25-year career in Health Promotion and Social Resilience has spanned education, policy, practice and research from her German roots to the USA, Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia. Uta is applying a health and human development lens to urban rejuvenation with specific focus on vulnerable communities, public housing and climate & health.