Studying connections between climate and health

August 26, 2014

Communities and scientists from across disciplines must collaborate to address climate change, ensure a livable world and provide health and well-being for future generations, the International Association for Ecology and Health declared at its 5th Biennial EcoHealth Conference Aug. 11-15 in Montreal, Canada.

The declaration mirrors the commitment made by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI), a supporting sponsor of the conference, to a collaborative One Health vision that recognizes the health and well-being of people, animals and ecosystems are interdependent.

UW-Madison closely linked to EcoHealth

UW-Madison has been closely involved with the International Association for Ecology and Health since its inception. Dr. Jonathan Patz, GHI director who shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for his work with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, served as the founding president, and UW-Madison hosted the first EcoHealth Conference in 2006.

The Nelson Institute is
a co-hosting organization
for “
Action in Climate
Change and Health
,” an
official side event to a
Sept. 22 U.N. Climate
Summit.

“The EcoHealth mission is similar to One Health, in that health depends on so many interlinked sectors,” says Patz, who is also a professor of environmental studies at UW-Madison. “An ecohealth approach, which is really a systems approach, is essential for any activities we pursue.”

During the conference, Dr. Tony Goldberg, GHI associate director for research, professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine and a faculty affiliate of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, presented how the One Health approach has resulted in a better understanding of human, animal and environmental health in Kibale National Park, Uganda. 

Making connections for health, ecosystems and society

“People, our fellow creatures and our mutual planet need our urgent attention in the face of global environmental change,” the EcoHealth declaration says. “A focus on health—across humans, animals and other species—offers new opportunities to harness synergies across disparate efforts to address climate change.”

GHI and UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute, Wisconsin Energy Institute and Office of Sustainability next bring international attention to the connection between climate and health as co-hosting organizations for “Action in Climate Change and Health,” an official side event to the September U.N. Climate Summit. The Public Health Institute, Global Climate and Health Alliance, and American College of Sports Medicine are also co-hosting organizations for the Sept. 22 event in New York City.

This UW-Madison co-hosted event will recap the health risks of climate change and detail how addressing climate change presents health opportunities through active transportation, sustainable food systems and clean energy. Dr. Richard Horton from The Lancet opens the event, and Patz, a co-organizer, is among the panelists.

A longer version of this article was originally published on the UW-Madison Global Health Institute website.