Healthy planet, healthy people

29 April 2011

Ruth Colagiuri
Ruth Colagiuri

A workshop at the University next week will investigate the common ground between two of the biggest challenges facing the modern world - improving global health and reducing the impact of climate change.

Growing evidence is emerging to suggest that the causes of the two problems - factors such as car dependency, poor urban design and mass food production - are linked.

Ruth Colagiuri, a health policy expert from the University of Sydney, said: "We will be looking at how we can align policy agendas to simultaneously improve the health of the planet and the health of its inhabitants."

Associate Professor Colagiuri is one of the leaders of Global Health Justice, a research group in the Worldwide Universities Network which includes academics from Australia, Europe and North America. More than 20 members of the group are taking part in a meeting at the University of Sydney from 5 to 7 May.

One of their aims is to produce a position statement that can be delivered to the UN High Level meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in New York in September. "The initiative is timely because these issues are beginning to resonate with world leaders and organisations," said Professor Colagiuri.

She said studies suggested that well-designed climate change policy could reduce the incidence of major NCDs such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer in local populations. According to the World Health Organisation, 60 per cent of global deaths annually can now be attributed to NCDs.

The Global Health Justice group includes academics from a broad range of areas including public health, law and philosophy, and one of the aims of the Sydney workshop is to identify ways in which the law can be used to tackle the modifiable causes of climate change and global diseases.

Contact: Richard North

Phone: 02 9351 3191

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