Leading scientists are meeting 'with urgency' to advance a plan to tackle global issues around health and the environment.
Academics from 16 organisations including Imperial College London are spending two days at the College to discuss a range of measures that will allow them to track how climate change is affecting human health, and how solutions can have mutual benefits for public health and the climate.
The meeting of the Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change initiative, included a public event on Monday night where Imperial students, academics and policymakers from NGOs working in international development debated with an expert panel over the priorities for future multidisciplinary research efforts and the course of action that academics should take.
A film of the event is available to watch below.
"It has only relatively recently been understood that acting on climate change is also a huge opportunity for improving global health." Said Professor Joanna Haigh, co-director of the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial's global institute promoting multidisciplinary research around climate change and the environment. "But now is the time to think about what we're going to do, and more importantly how to measure the progress that's being made."
Now that the Paris Climate Change Agreement has been ratified, the next challenge is to make sure governments act on their promises. The event raised the complementary measures to improve health and environment being adopted by other organisations including the World Health Organisation (WHO) Climate and Health Country Profiles and the United Nations' Sustainability Development Goals, and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Now is the time to think about what we're going to do, and more importantly how to measure the progress that's being made
– Professor Joanna Haigh
Co-director of the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment
Panel members from Public Health England, the Overseas Development Institute and UCL presented the effects of climate change on migration and future wars, how this links with energy policies like a global price on greenhouse gas emissions, and the effect that health research has had so far on socioeconomic inequalities between people around the world.
Professor Anthony Costello, from the Department of Maternal, New born, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization chaired the event. In a statement, he said: "Now that the Paris Climate Change Agreement has been ratified, the next challenge is to make sure governments act on their promises. Their actions on climate change need to be monitored to ensure we are on track to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement. Only then can governments be held to account on climate change and challenged to go further to tackle this global crisis."
Students from the Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet Doctoral Training Partnership conducted a survey at the event, as part of a year-long project to promote new multidisciplinary research in the area of climate change and health. They asked whether attendees had existing research links to disciplines other than their main study topic, such as between health and economics, and where attendees see a benefit in collaborating across in the future.
Hiral Shah, one of the PhD students from the Healthy People, Healthy Planet project said: "Our hypothesis is that there is a potential for stakeholders to venture into new areas of collaboration to combat climate change and improve health. Therefore, we want to understand the current interconnection of disciplines in the landscape and highlight key disciplines that the audience values as beneficial to collaborate across to mitigate climate change and improve global health.."
Healthy People, Healthy Planet are a Challenge Team project, where students collaborate to highlight key issues and promote the need for action among stakeholders. They will report on their findings on the Grantham Institute blog.
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