Analysis

2022: A move towards more integrated Health and Environment agendas?

Julie Henri

Following the recent G7 Health Ministers meeting and World Health Assembly which saw the re-election of Dr Tedros on 26 May, Julie Henri reflects on how the Global Health agenda and its priorities are gradually cementing around environmental targets and the One Health approach.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in Global Health with the 75th World Health Assembly concluding at the weekend and the G7 Health Ministers’ meeting held on 19-20 May.

Looking at the recent Global Health and Environment fora, including COP26 in November 2021, one cannot help but notice how intertwined the climate and health agendas are becoming.

COP26 held the first ever Health Pavilion and launched the COP26 Health Programme aimed at shaping more sustainable healthcare systems within countries and incorporating health into climate actions measurements such as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) more systematically.

Earlier this year, World Health Day also highlighted the link between our health and that of our planet under the theme of “our planet, our health”.

And more recently the G7 Health Ministers mentioned the word “climate” no less than 39 times in their Communiqué.  The final statement also argued that climate actions can have valuable health co-benefits (e.g. through cleaner air, healthier diets and greater physical activity) – a concept that experts like Sir Andy Haines, Professor of Environmental Change and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have been advocating for, for over a decade.

The global community has now firmly recognised the intrinsic link between our health and that of our planet.  There is also greater recognition of the multi-faceted challenges that we are facing to ensure that our climate actions truly benefit our health and that our healthcare systems do not damage our planet further.

The narrative among global health circles seems to cement around a more holistic approach, most commonly known as “One Health” – an approach which considers the connection between people, animals, plants, and the environment, to help identify emerging health threats across these groups.

The One Health agenda seems to be gaining momentum globally.  The G7 Pact for Pandemic Readiness will see the UK, USA, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy work together alongside multilateral organisations like the World Health Organization by sharing the best of their COVID-19-inspired initiatives, including those on surveillance and rapid response.

In the UK last week, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) also signed the Public Engagement in Plant Health Accord with the Royal Horticultural Society, National Farmers Union, National Trust, Tree Council and Horticultural Trades Association.  The Accord aims to raise public awareness of plant health and biosecurity and “promotes the actions that the public can take to protect tree and plant health”.

The success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), of which health and climate are a key part, heavily relies on countries taking more integrated and collaborative approaches to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s ever more inter-connected challenges.

MHP Mischief is particularly involved in the Global Health space, and the continually evolving agendas and global health priorities are relevant to a number of our clients.  If you would like to find out more about our work, please contact Arabella Moore (Arabella.Moore@mhpc.com) or Julie Henri (Julie.Henri@mhpc.com) or watch our creds video here.

Further reading: