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Healthy people, healthy planet

 

The role of health systems in promoting healthier lifestyles and a greener future

As the G7 economies continue their recovery from the Great Recession, the stress on their environmental resources is likely to grow, unless appropriate policy measures are taken. Air pollution, an important source of environmental stress, affects health outcomes directly, for example as a risk factor for respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, or indirectly, such as through the impacts on climate change and higher probability of extreme weather events. Many sources contribute to environmental pollution, including the overconsumption of food, unhealthy diets and food waste, unsustainable city growth, as well as overreliance on private motorised vehicles as a means of transportation. Each of these factors can also have a direct negative effect on various dimensions of health.

This document, produced to inform the 2017 meeting of the G7 Ministers of Health, provides a broad overview of the main policy issues and some of the policy actions that G7 Health authorities can put in place to improve population health, while at the same time decreasing the human footprint on the environment.
 

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POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Support the development and implementation of nutritional guidelines promoting healthier food consumption – as this can lead to less stress on the environmental resources used in food production – as well as reduce the environmental footprint in hospitals and in nursing homes by encouraging healthier food consumption, waste reduction and cleaner energy generation;
  • Create partnerships with various national and local stakeholders, including local city authorities and ministries of industry, environment, transport, and agriculture, in order to incorporate health and environmental considerations into urban planning schemes;
  • Implement public health actions encouraging more physical activity and greater reliance on active modes of transportation, such as through physical activity-promoting mass media campaigns, bike sharing schemes and creating low-emission zones.

KEY DATA

Cost of premature deaths due to ambient air pollution as a share of GDP in OECD countries, 2015

Cost-of-premature-deaths-due-to-ambient-air-pollution-OECD-2015 

Source: Roy, R. and N. Braathen (2017), “The Rising Cost of Ambient Air Pollution thus far in the 21st Century: Results from the BRIICS and the OECD Countries”.
OECD Environment Working Papers, No. 124, OECD Publishing, Paris. Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/d1b2b844-en.

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