Caroline Costongs, Director of EuroHealthNet (the European Partnership for Health Equity and Wellbeing), advocates linking better health and reduced inequalities with climate initiatives, in what she describes as a ‘triple-win’ approach. She draws on the outcomes of the EU-funded INHERIT initiative, which held its final conference on 10 December 2019.
Why link the environment and equity with health?
The climate and ecological crises pose a grave threat to public health. Tackling them is urgent and will require governments, businesses, communities and individuals to make changes. The health sector, too, has a key role to play, not only by greening healthcare systems, but also by seizing this opportunity to work together to enable and encourage sustainable, healthy behaviour change.
We must also recognise that people facing socio-economic disadvantages will be the hardest hit by climate change, and benefit the least from measures taken to address it. The INHERIT initiative has spent four years analysing the links between health, environment and equity, and is now calling for an integrated ‘triple-win’ approach to tackle interconnected environmental and social challenges: reduce environmental impacts, improve health, and increase health equity.