Environment and health collaboration kicks-off in Truro

Posted on 20th November 2014

Environment and health experts from across the UK met in Truro this week, to begin work on research that will improve understanding of environmental change.

The project is hoping to tackle critical questions in areas that include climate change, shifting land use, and environmental degradation.

Funded by the National Institute of Health Research it will specifically consider how these changes might impact the health and wellbeing of populations in the UK, as well as internationally.

The initiative brings together specialists from the University of Exeter, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Public Health England, Met Office, and University College London, and forms one of the UK Government’s first Health Protection Research Units.

“These types of problems can only be solved with a collaborative and inter-disciplinary approach”

The World’s current use of resources is causing large-scale shifts in the environment, with these changes likely to bring significant impacts for human health and wellbeing. As climate change, biodiversity loss and a rising population mount increasing pressure on the globe’s life-sustaining resources, we must plan how we protect and preserve commodities such as water, food, air, energy and materials.

This collaborative and cross-discipline research is hoping to provide decision makers with the knowledge, foresight and tools to mitigate, adapt to and benefit from environmental change.

The project includes a focus on ‘climate resilience’, which will assess the health effects of manmade climate change and extreme weather events, as well as a theme on ‘healthy sustainable cities’ which will examine how built environments might affect health.

Professor Lora Fleming will be leading the project’s third focus, evaluating how health and wellbeing can be influenced by the natural environment through green spaces and other ecosystem services. This theme of research will also consider risks posed by the environment such as infectious diseases, pollen, and harmful algal blooms. Speaking at the event Professor Fleming said:

“We’ve assembled an incredibly diverse team to tackle these growing environment and health challenges. I’m particularly looking forward to exploring both the risks and benefits that a changing environment could pose to health – an area that we’re ideally placed to interrogate in the South West. These types of problems can only be solved with a collaborative, inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional approach, and we’ll be feeding our findings directly into governmental policy.”

More information about the Environmental Change and Health HPRU can be found here

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