Yorkshire health and climate leaders commit to collaborate

Fri, 06/09/2023 - 15:03


Statement of intent: Collaboration between the Association of Directors of Public Health Yorkshire and the Humber, and the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission

Directors of Public Health and the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission are working together to support the ambitious actions in the region’s Climate Action Plan.

Why we are working together

The climate crisis is a public health crisis. People who already experience worse health because of inequalities are most vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather, food insecurity, air pollution and increases in water borne and insect carried diseases.

As we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative for communities and those who serve them to be as well informed and included as possible if they are to be prepared for future disruption.

The Yorkshire and Humber Association of Directors of Public Health (YHADPH) and the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission (YHCC) are committed to demonstrating collective high-level leadership and advocacy for adaptive action, incorporating the broader principles of sustainability through effective regional action.

We will join our voices, knowledge, and connections to focus greater and more immediate attention on the climate crisis as an urgent public health matter.

Activities contributing to climate change also drive poor health outcomes, including air pollution. As the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK, air pollution concentrated disproportionately in areas of greater deprivation. We know the communities most vulnerable to health inequalities are also those most exposed to the impacts of climate change. These communities are often the least well-resourced and have the least capacity to deal with extreme weather-related events.

By taking steps to adapt and mitigate against the effects of climate change, we will improve the health of our communities.

The climate and ecological emergency are interlinked, having potential to widen existing health inequalities. We have seen increasing and devastating examples of this amongst our Yorkshire and Humber localities in recent times, including the effects of flooding and extreme heat.

Healthy communities rely on well-functioning ecosystems. By taking ambitious action on climate change and recognising the importance of the natural environment we can actively decrease inequalities and increase resilience of communities, organisations, and individuals to the impact of climate change. Ensuring a ‘just transition’ is critical to the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Action Plan and is a fundamental pillar for this collaboration.

How we will work together

To ensure a just transition we will seek to embed adaptation and resilience into health inequalities policy and practice.

As everyone has a role to play in responding to the climate and ecological emergency, we will work together strategically, aligning climate action and health related interventions. We aim to deliver this as a major part of our commitment to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities for the people of Yorkshire and the Humber.

Members of the YHADPH and the Commission will work together to develop shared actions to address climate and health inequalities to make a tangible difference for our communities.

We are committed to understanding how best to make a difference to those most at risk of poor health because of climate change, as well as sharing this knowledge and using it to build policies and actions which will deliver evidence-based positive outcomes.

We will collaborate with local communities to share information and understanding of climate change public health issues, allowing those living and working in those communities to make well-informed choices aimed at improving equitable long-term health

The priorities of the YHADPH are to improve life chances for children and young people, to promote inclusive wellbeing economies, and to support action to address climate change and sustainability. Members of the Commission will ensure these three priority areas are at the heart of sharing expertise and learning, as well as co-creating clear actions.

This collaboration will work alongside other partnerships and alliances supporting the formation and implementation of high-level policies.

We will:

  • Demonstrate clear leadership on net zero
  • Create adaptive capacities
  • Ensure policies will not have adverse effects on health
  • Ensure policies will improve the health of our communities and decrease health-related inequalities.

‘Most critical issue of our lifetimes’

Greg Fell (pictured above, left), Director of Public Health, Sheffield, said: “Climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. The consequences of inaction are enormous.

“All fourteen local Directors of Public Health across the Yorkshire and Humber region have unanimously agreed that climate change and biodiversity loss is a key public health issue on which they will all focus their collective energy.

"They are all clear that climate change is the most important public health issue of the next century. The impacts of climate change on our environment and populations are already happening – some impacts we can expect and mitigate against, but others we cannot yet fully predict or even imagine. We are working together to look at how we adapt and support each other to do so.

“Collective action on climate change and a transition to a low carbon, cleaner energy future, provides one of the greatest opportunities to improve health and reduce inequalities.

“A health centred response to climate change will deliver huge improvements in the health of our communities through the associated co-benefits of climate action.’’

Rosa Foster (pictured above, right), Co-Director of Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the emerging collaboration between the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission and the Directors of Public Health across our region. One of our top commitments in our Climate Action Plan is to develop an outline health and wellbeing strategy for the region in response to the challenges that we face due to our rapidly changing and increasingly unpredictable climate, and from being one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. And this collaboration is a big step towards developing this.

“I hope that by promoting this collaboration we will inspire others. We will only meet the challenges that we face by working together, benefiting from a broad range of insight, experience, and knowledge, and harnessing the energy and commitment that comes from a strong sense of common endeavour towards a clear vision.”

Rosa and Greg jointly stated that: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work in partnership together on the most critical issue of our lifetimes.”