Getting to a 'Healthy Planet, Healthy People'
18 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2019More...
Background: Against the background of issue-by-issue environmental assessments (e.g. on climate, oceans) and environmental health assessments (e.g. by WHO, the Lancet Commission), this paper builds on the 2019 Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) Healthy Planet, Healthy People to ask: What part does a healthy environment play in maintaining/enhancing human health? How can we rank negative human impacts on nature in terms of their relationship to human health?
Methods: Based on the evidence reviewed in GEO-6, and taking the Sustainable Development Goals as the normative starting point, we rank the reversibility of human' impacts on the health of the planet and the planet's impacts on human health. We present these two rankings in an integrated figure to communicate the interconnections between a healthy planet and healthy people and reflect on this approach.
Findings: The health of the environment is inextricably linked to the health of people; those benefiting from exploiting the environment may not be those exposed and most vulnerable to the health risks. Impacts on biodiversity are the least reversible, followed by those on the atmosphere, oceans, fresh water and land; human health is most impacted by atmospheric pollution, followed by biodiversity change and fresh water pollution, land use change and ocean health; but local impacts in different parts of the world may affect the ranking.
Interpretation: The tentative results are neither absolute nor valid long-term, but (a) emphasize that addressing environmental and health issues are synergetic and prioritize the furthest behind; and (b) can help policymakers prioritize their limited re-sources.
Funding Statement: The authors have volunteered their time and expertise for GEO-6 and for this paper. While UN Environment, through government funding, has financed the meetings of the scholars working on the Global Environment Outlook, each author has covered his/her research work under their normal research time.
Declaration of Interests: The authors declare no competing interests.
Ethics Approval Statement: The paper Getting to a 'Healthy Planet, Healthy People' is based on a literature review and expert judgement and hence is exempt from ethical approval. The authors have nevertheless undertaken the assessment with integrity.
Keywords: Nature's contributions to humans, healthy planet, healthy people, ecosystems, Sustainable Development Goals
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