Workshop: unequal treatment for equal opportunity

At the Prevention & Health workshop, experts from the public and private sectors reflected on new perspectives for this important topic. "We need to work on unequal treatment so that everyone has equal opportunities."

The Amsterdam Economic Board, ROM InWest and the MRA Directie organised this workshop to connect parties and gather new ideas and insights. The goal? Creating a roadmap to improve on prevention and health in the region by ‘looking differently and acting differently’.

Look differently, act differently requires a fundamentally different approach and way of working together. It means approaching problems and possible solutions from new angles. Together with involved people, who take a different viewpoint than the usual. Especially when that is difficult. To this end, nine tasks have been formulated for the Metropolis of Tomorrow: to develop, harmonise, make, contribute, feel at home, livelihood security, decisionmaking, ownership and exchange.

Click on the image (in Dutch) for an explanation of each of these tasks.

Negen uitgangspunten Werkatelier Preventie

Inclusive prosperity

The starting point of today’s workshop is inclusive prosperity, says Claire Teurlings of the Amsterdam Economic Board in her introduction. “It goes beyond materialistic prosperity. Inclusive prosperity also covers other things we consider of value, such as health, education, safety and personal development. An important question here is how to motivate people to make their own contribution to this.”

The attendees mostly worked individually. They are employed by governments, businesses, insurers, academia, healthcare institutions and civil society organisations and are challenged to make the tasks concrete.

The nine tasks are taped to the floor and the experts stood around them. Which ones stand out? To develop would require autonomy, says one surgeon. “When people are given autonomy during their treatment, they start to develop their own ideas. And feel better about themselves.” A conversation ensues about how healthy behaviour can pay off. One attendee mentioned Fitcoins, which some municipalities use to reward healthy behaviour. Another says these have been shown to have only temporary effects. “Just like many national campaigns and interventions. So we need to look for a reward that ensures a longer-lasting effect.”

Mental health

The task of feeling at home is reviewed. “That one is about mental health. Many people cannot focus on their health because they are dealing with constant stress,” someone commented. Another noted the discussion is very much focused on the individual. “If that resident just does this thing, we’ll all be fine. But I think we need to talk about the system. What systems do we need to change?”

Harmonising is also discussed. Several experts find collaborations between various organisations are difficult, even though they are much-needed. “The Amsterdam Vital & Healthy programme (Amsterdam Vitaal & Gezond, ed.) is already running – shouldn’t we join it?” asked an attendee.

Attendees were urged to seek out the task they felt most interested in. A number of people chose livelihood security. “This, in our opinion, is the most important task,” one of them explained later. “When you don’t have that security, it leads to stress. And we all know that in turn leads to unnecessary unhealthiness.” Others want to focus on the theme of development: “This task is about equal opportunities, a basic prerequisite for a healthy life.”

Headline in 2035

In several groups, participants elaborate on some of the themes. What news headline do they want to see in 2035? And who should work together to make that happen? What should we stop doing, what should we continue doing?

At the various tables, attendees engaged in intense conversations and set the bar high. Stop making room for unhealthy lobbying, says one. And also: start consuming less, informal care should become easier, we must stop distrusting citizens, administrators must put their egos aside.

‘Students live in the Amsterdam UMC’

With this headline, the first group aims to hit the newsstands in 2035. The housing shortage has been solved, thanks to a healthy environment in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Far fewer hospital beds are needed as a result. The group wants to achieve this by zooming in on local initiatives and communities. “We need to look at what it takes on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis to get people healthier.” Someone mentions the participatory budget: a budget for a district or municipality on which citizens may have a say. The group wants to end perverse incentives in health care and move away from the classic valuation model with a focus on shareholders. The group also proposes a basic income for all.

‘Inclusive health’

The 2nd group’s news article in 2035 opens with: As the first region in Europe, companies and governments in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area have succeeded in achieving health for all in an inclusive way. In this ambition, the responsibility lies not with individuals, but with companies: investors, food products, pension funds. “We must immediately stop the unhealthy lobbying toward administrators. We need to find systemic barriers and remove them. And we need to move towards sustainable business models and ask ourselves carefully what will be needed tomorrow.”

‘CEOs of Deloitte and ABN AMRO Bank work part-time in healthcare: a great success’

The surprising 2035 headline by Group 3 is about ownership. “We want to move towards a healthcare society in which we make vertical and horizontal connections and in which solidarity and trust are central.” While existing structures leave room for improvement, we should not want to tear them down. “We offer good healthcare in the Netherlands, we have a good infrastructure. Starting all over again doesn’t make much sense. Above all we should look for the flaws in the system and discuss those.”

‘Living a long, healthy life’

The last group focused on livelihood security and arrived at this headline. The difference in life expectancy between people from different walks of life is too great, the group noted. “Therefore, we should not work towards equal treatment, but rather focus on unequal treatment so that everyone has an equal chance to live a long and healthy life.” The group discussed principles such as the economy of happiness, inclusive well-being, development, participation and a meaningful existence. “The bottom line is: am I happy? If you are, you have intrinsic livelihood security.”

Continuing towards a healthy and active metropolis

The workshop is a follow-up to the Prevention Dinner Healthy & Active Living in the Metropolis of Tomorrow, which the Amsterdam Economic Board organised in March with the MRA Bureau and ROM InWest. The participants all indicated a desire to work on it further. But, some experts note: if we are talking about 2035, we should also invite Gen Z’ers. As well as the people this is really about. The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences makes another appeal: “If you have interesting projects that you don’t have enough execution power for: feel free to email me. We always have plenty of students looking for great assignments.”

Want to participate, have feedback or ideas on the theme of Healthy and Active Living in the Metropolis of Tomorrow? Please contact Richard Hoving or Gerty Holla.

26 September 2023

Read more about

Contact us



Want to read more articles like this one?
Follow us daily on LinkedIn, X and sign up for our Board Update.

Read more