The conference aimed to share information between those groups with an interest in NCD and sustainability and to identify common causes and inter-linkages.

- Conference:Preventing global NCDs through low carbon development

The event brought together policy makers, NGOs and researchers to better understand each others’ perspectives and to help contribute to joint strategies.

Bringing the NCD and low carbon agendas together – important findings

  • The composition of the atmosphere and the Earth climate has changed mostly due to human activities and is projected to continue to change, globally and regionally. This does and will have an adverse effect on human health in direct and indirect ways (food, water, security, poverty, security) so climate change is not a pure environmental issue.
  • Projected impacts of human induced climate change adversely affects ecological systems, decreases agricultural productivity, decreases water availability and quality, increases the incidence of vector-borne diseases.
  • Smart development choices – linking health to green policies such as green urban transport - can reduce chronic disease, injuries and improve health equity. Greening health facilities can expand coverage of maternal, child & emergency services.
  • While the impact of climate change on health is felt globally, different countries experience these impacts to differing degrees.
  • There are potential health benefits to climate change mitigation action beyond the reduction of climate related effects. In some cases, they may achieve health, greenhouse gas and economic benefits simultaneously.

Research and policy actions that achieve dual goals – messages of speakers

  • Since NCDs are great destroyers of social cohesion and equity, they impact adversely directly or indirectly on the future and make human development unsustainable, stressed George Alleyne, Director Emeritus, Pan American Health Organisation.
  • Andrew Haines (LSHTM) stressed that an integrated approach to reducing carbon emissions through policies outside the health sector(e.g. Housing, Transport, Food and agriculture, Electricity generation) can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and have public health benefits.
  • There are cost-effective and equitable solutions to address climate change, but political will and moral leadership is needed, and the changes in policies, practices and technologies required are substantial and not currently being undertaken, emphasised Robert Watson (University of East Anglia)
  • Focusing on research and policy actions that achieve dual goals, Sari Kovats, LSHTM) highlighted that prevention policy depends on scientific understanding of cause and effect, the possibility of prediction, and capacity for controlled intervention by government
  • Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable , said Tim Lang, Centre for Food Policy (UK)
  • Evidence on NCD prevention from specific low carbon policies can transform the policy debate and enable tracking of progress towards healthy development. The health sector can lead with evidence and indicators of sustainable development was the key message of Carlos Dora (WHO)
  • Traffic is the cause of most child pedestrian deaths. It might sound obvious, but its actually really important, and more car use results also in higher levels of obesity said Ian Roberts, LSHTM
  • Phil Wynn Owen (Dept of Energy and Climate Change) reminded everyone that the effects of climate change on ecological and social systems could also have indirect health impacts. Changes in water, air and food quality, as well as changes in ecosystems, agriculture, industry and the economy also have impacts on human health

Four key policy sectors identified to reduce both NCDs and greenhouse gas emissions

Health co-benefits of the low-carbon economy can be achieved as a side effect of other policies, as follows:

  1. HOUSING - clean household energy is central to improving women’s and children’s health. With energy efficient houses both climate change and public health benefits can be achieved.
  1. TRANSPORT is an important area where reductions can be made to air pollution, road traffic injuries, and noise which put large burdens on human health. Safe and active transport as well as increased physical activity (e.g. walking, cycling) can avert the very large burden of disease.
  1. FOOD & AGRICULTURE – are important contributors to green-house gas emissions. Livestock are currently responsible for 80% of all CO2 emissions from the Agricultural industry. Reducing consumption of beef and sheep products could help lower emissions and improve health.
  1. ELECTRICITY GENERATION This sector can lift populations out of poverty, but it is largely fossil fuel driven, particularly in developing countries. This can have negative impacts on health. Nuclear energy is beneficial from an emissions point of view but is controversial for security and safety reasons.

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Last modified on March 1 2013.