Report: Ensuring Human Health Requires Focus on Environmental Sustainability

  • 2015•08•13     Kuala Lumpur

    On 6 August 2015 the UNU International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) hosted the South-East Asia launch of the report Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene Epoch. The new report from the Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on Planetary Health calls for action to ensure future health and environmental sustainability, showing that solutions are within reach.

    The report outlines the concept of planetary health as an understanding that “human health and human civilisation depend on flourishing natural systems and the wise stewardship of those natural systems.” While demonstrating that human activity has pushed the natural systems that support and sustain human health to near breaking point, the report provides guidance for protecting the health of future generations. Redefining prosperity to support preservation of natural resources and ecosystems, and improving related governance will all contribute to sustainable planetary health

    UNU-IIGH Director Professor Anthony Capon is one of the 15 commissioners from eight countries who wrote the report under the leadership of Professor Sir Andy Haines from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Prof. Capon stressed that, “The environment and human health are linked in many ways. Without a committed focus on planetary health we will run into serious global health problems — from nutrition and agriculture to infectious disease and pollution. The report and an infographic show how we can protect and strengthen the essential foundations for future health,”

    Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene Epoch report launch

    Photo: UNU-IIGH

    The Commission warns that a rising population, unsustainable consumption and the overuse of natural resources will exacerbate these health challenges in the future. The world’s poorest communities will be among those at greatest risk, as they live in areas that are most strongly affected and have greater sensitivity to disease and poor health.

    Lead author Prof. Sir Andy Haines, reiterated the report’s call for action stating, “We are on the verge of triggering irreversible, global effects, ranging from ocean acidification to biodiversity loss. These environmental changes — which include, but extend far beyond climate change — threaten the gains in health that have been achieved over recent decades and increase the risks to health arising from major challenges as diverse as under-nutrition and food insecurity, freshwater shortages, emerging infectious diseases, and extreme weather events.”

    Solutions to these clear and potent dangers are within reach, say the Commission authors, but the world needs to take decisive, coordinated action to protect the environment and secure the health of future generations.

    For more information on the launch event and the report, visit the UNU-IIGH website.