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Healthy Planet, Healthy People – funding the environment to improve human health

A series of webinars, podcasts and blogs for funders exploring the many interconnections between human health and the environment

The COVID-19 pandemic has focused attention on the intersection between the environment and human health more than ever before. With the UK Government hosting the COP26 UN climate conference in November 2021 as well as the G7 summit earlier in the year, public awareness of environmental issues and the potential for UK leadership in addressing the climate, nature and pollution crises are at an all-time high. The actions we take in the coming decade will be crucial – and philanthropy can play a pivotal role in catalysing the step-change that’s needed to put us on track to a healthier world.

The Healthy Planet, Healthy People series explores the many interconnections between human health and the environment, and demonstrates why supporting environmental work can lead to significant positive health and social outcomes, and be a longer term, holistic means for funders interested in these issues to achieve their objectives. With contributions from scientists, funders, civil society and health experts, the series will cover topics such as climate change; infectious diseases; air, water and land pollution; mental health; diet and food systems; and health inequalities. Please check back as we add more content during 2021, including a philanthropy briefing paper summarising all the information from the series, or let us know if you’d like to be notified about upcoming events in the series and other updates.

Health and environment overview

Watch: The series launch event provides an overview of the links between the environment and human health from the perspective of healthcare experts in the UK and internationally, and from funders who already take account of these interconnections in their grantmaking, in particular with regard to climate change. The speakers included:

  • Professor Hugh Montgomery: Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at UCL and Co-Chair of the Lancet Countdown
  • Dr Githinji Gitahi: Chief Executive Officer of Amref Health Africa and Advisor to the Lancet Countdown
  • Madeleine Thomson: Interim Head of the ‘Our Planet, Our Health’ programme at the Wellcome Trust
  • Sonia Medina: Executive Director for Climate at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)

Watch the video here.

Watch: Climate change, human health, and philanthropy: With thanks to New Philanthropy Capital (NCP), who recorded this webinar in October 2021 as part of their annual conference, NPC Ignites.  What does the growing understanding of the links between the environment and human health mean for funders? This webinar explores how funders can better understand and address the environmental determinates of health, from zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19 to the growing toll on our physical and mental health from increased heatwaves, flooding, and climate anxiety, with the biggest impacts among the least privileged communities in our society. Speakers include:

  • Justin Johnson, Climate Director, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
  • Florence Miller, Director, Environmental Funders Network
  • Peninah Murage, Co-Deputy Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health.
  • Chaired by Liz Gadd, Principal, NPC.

Watch the video here.

Mental health

Watch: State of Nature, State of Mind, with thanks to Wildlife and Countryside Link who recorded this webinar in May 2021 for Mental Health Awareness Week to explore how people’s mental health can benefit from access to a thriving natural environment. The expert panel included:

  • Mark Rowland: CEO, Mental Health Foundation
  • Dr Amir Khan: GP, author of ‘The Doctor Will See You Now’ and Ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts and Butterfly Conservation
  • Baroness Kate Parminter: Chair, Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee
  • Beccy Speight: CEO, RSPB
  • Dr Rebecca Lovell: University of Exeter Medical School

Watch the video here.

Read: Mental health and the underfunded environmental determinants, a blog by Liz Gadd, trustee of the Environmental Funders Network, trustee of Pesticide Action Network UK, and Principal for Effective Philanthropy at New Philanthropy Capital.

Read the blog here.

Toxics and Pollution

Watch or listen: Inspiring People: Toxics and Pollution explores the critical role of philanthropy in supporting efforts to eliminate toxics and chemical pollution from our environment in order to protect people’s health.

Devika Waney, Trustee of Savitri Waney Charitable Trust speaks to Dr. Apolline Roger, Law & Policy Adviser/Chemicals Program Lead at ClientEarth; Elizabeth Salter Green, Co-founder and Director at CHEM Trust; Josie Cohen, Head of Policy & Campaigns at Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) and Dr. Kerry Dinsmore, Technical expert and Projects Manager at Fidra.

To watch the video, please click here.

To listen to the podcast, please click here. Also available online at Spotify, or search for ‘Environmental Funders Network’ in your Apple podcast or Spotify app.

Picture of the blog authorRead: Funding work on pesticides: why now is the perfect time to take the plunge, a blog by Josie Cohen, Head of Policy & Campaigns for Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK).

Read the blog here.

Air pollution

WatchThe Health Impacts of Air Pollution: Air pollution is often referred to as an ‘invisible killer’, and is one of the biggest and most pressing public health issues globally. It accounts for a high proportion of deaths and disease from lung cancer, respiratory infections, stroke, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and there is growing evidence linking air pollution to myriad other health impacts, such as childhood obesity, child growth impairment, mental health disorders and cancer. Climate change and air pollution are two sides of the same coin – the substances that cause air pollution come from many of the same sources as greenhouse gas emissions, or are greenhouse gases themselves. As funders, how can we address the root causes of air pollution, leading to better outcomes for both human health and the environment? With Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, London; Matt Whitney, Portfolio Manager at the Clean Air Fund; Andrzej Gula, President of Krakow Smog Alert and co-founder of Polish Smog Alert; and Gavin Thomson, Transport Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland.

ReadThe State of Global Air Quality Funding 2021. This report by the Clean Air Fund provides a global snapshot of projects tackling air pollution by donor governments and philanthropic organisations.

WatchAir pollution, health and climate change – in conversation with Professor Jonathan Grigg, Professor of Paediatric Respiratory and Environmental Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, and a Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician at the Royal London Hospital. Professor Grigg is the lead paediatrician for government advice on air pollution and children’s health as a member of the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, and authored the report “Every breath we take, the lifelong impact of air pollution“. He is also a co-founder of Doctors Against Diesel, a group advocating the rapid phase out of the current fleet of diesel cars, vans, and taxis in UK cities.

Infectious diseases

Watch or listen: How Environmental Issues Drive Infectious Diseases. Our engagement with animals and the habitats we share plays a critical role in our global health security. Emerging human diseases are rarely new, they are often ‘zoonotic’: established pathogens moving to humans from other animals. Around 60% of all infectious diseases are zoonotic, with Covid-19 being one in a long line throughout our history. To reduce the risk of future pandemics, we need a long-term vision, one that enables us to fundamentally transform our relationship with the natural world. What role can philanthropy play in this?

© Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Watch this fascinating international discussion with speakers dialling in from the Gambia, UK, Vietnam and Zambia: Dr Kris Murray, Associate Professor of Environment and Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Anna Jones, Head of Forests, Greenpeace UK; James Compton, Head of TRAFFIC’s Wildlife TRAPS Project; and Markus Hofmeyr, Programme Officer for Wildlife Conservation & Trade, Oak Foundation.

To watch the video, please click here.

To listen to the podcast, please click here. Also available online at Spotify, or search for ‘Environmental Funders Network’ in your Apple podcast or Spotify app.