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Why climate change?

Economic and population growth have led to increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, changes in land use, biodiversity loss, and the depletion of fresh water resources. These changes affect human health through poor air quality, depleted food systems, increased animal and human exposure to infectious diseases, and a heightened risk of natural disasters and exposures to climate extremes.

Climate change in particular poses a critical threat to planetary health and magnifies existing social and health inequalities by disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable: women, children, the elderly, those living in poverty, and those in the most vulnerable areas such as tropical megacities, coastal areas, and small islands.

Why planetary health?

The interconnection between climate and environmental change and human health has led to the concept of ‘planetary health’, defined as the health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends. The field of planetary health is in its infancy, needs better conceptual tools and frameworks, and calls for transdisciplinary, policy-oriented research and interventions. Thinking with a planetary health perspective can help us identify interventions that benefit both health and the environment, and simultaneously work to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Some of our key priorities will include:

  • the design of sustainable and healthy cities
  • understanding and controlling the shifting patterns of infectious disease
  • the delivery of sustainable and healthy food systems under environmental change.