WHO launches Health in the Green Economy series

On June 14, 2011, at a satellite meeting of the annual Global Health Council conference in Washington, D.C., the World Health Organization (WHO) launched an exciting new series on the health co-benefits arising from climate change mitigation strategies. The event was titled, “Health in the Green Economy: Leveraging Big Gains for Chronic Disease Prevention", and was co-sponsored by WHO Geneva, along with the Washington, D.C. office of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

This cutting-edge event featured experts who presented research on how climate-friendly investments in key sectors of the economy could also contribute to prevention of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, obesity-related diseases, illnesses from extreme temperatures, and even traffic injuries.  The Health in the Green Economy series is the first systematic review on how to promote health co-benefits, while avoiding health risks from policies and investments in sectors such as transport, housing, home energy, and agriculture.

The Center for Public Health and Climate Change at PHI will also have a key role in supporting mitigation strategies that promote health in a green economy across sectors.  The initial focus will be on the health, agriculture, transport/urbanization and housing sectors. In this context, the Center will contribute, through its leadership program, to the adoption of health promoting strategies and policies and mitigation strategies that bring co-benefits to health and the environment. 

In the transport sector, for example, a reduction of vehicle miles traveled, via improvements in public transport and increased walking and cycling, results in reduced air pollution and associated respiratory health impacts, while improving physical activity. In the agriculture and food sectors, health promoting policies that support "sustainable diets" by promoting the intake of more fruits and vegetables and reducing consumption of animal fats will contribute to reducing emissions from livestock production at the same time that health co-benefits from reduced saturated fat intake are supported.

Continue to stay tuned for updates on the Center for Public Health and Climate Change’s innovative work at the intersections of public health prevention and climate change mitigation. And remember, climate win = health win!