Climate Change and Human Health: Impacts and Responses
The international health and medical journal The Lancet has described climate change as the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. It is clear that the climate is changing and that the impact on health is real. Health injuries, illnesses, and deaths caused by extreme weather events such as heatwaves, hurricanes and floods are obvious. Climate change also is affecting the geographic range and incidence of infectious diseases, such as diarrheal disease and malaria, and under-nutrition. Further, climate change has more subtle and sustained impacts on human health by affecting the three basic pillars of life: air, water and food. Kathryn Bowen will discuss the importance of understanding the health impacts arising from global environmental change (particularly climate change), provide a global overview of current and future action to respond to these changes, and outline the importance of understanding governance and decision-making processes in order to influence policy and programs.
Kathryn Bowen’s work is predominantly in developing countries and she will present some examples of the work that is occurring in the Asia Pacific region to respond to the health impacts of climate change, as well as pose some questions around governance approaches. There is increasing attention being paid to the health impacts of climate change, and the inequitable distribution of these impacts. Given this, a more sophisticated investigation of decision-making processes and broader governance issues is required, particularly given the rapidly changing landscape of funding of climate change adaptation and mitigation; from 2020 it is anticipated that USD100 billion will be directly to adaptation and mitigation activities. Such an influx of funding necessitates a strong evidence base to inform government actions as well as safeguards to ensure that the funds are equitably and appropriately distributed.
Kathryn Bowen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Research School of Population Health at the Australian National University (ANU). Her current research focuses on the nexus of global environmental change, global health and governance issues. She holds a PhD (ANU), MSc (International Health, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and Freie Universität) and BA/Psyc (Honors, University of Newcastle). She has worked in global health research and policy since 1999, across public, private and university sectors. She is a Research Fellow within the Earth System Governance project, and a Fellow of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership.