This live written panel discussion explored the connections between health equity and climate change, and how can businesses play a role.
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Thursday 16 March, 11am to 12pm EST / 3pm to 4 pm GMT
Health equity and climate change are closely interconnected, climate change can have adverse effects on human health, especially for vulnerable and marginalised populations. Businesses can promote health equity and address climate change by implementing sustainable practices, reducing their carbon footprint, and investing in technologies and products that promote health and well-being, particularly for underserved communities. But what does this mean in practice? Where should we focus our resources and efforts? What can we learn from others? And how can we work together to address health equity and climate change simultaneously?
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Federica Angius, Health Writer, Crystaal Med. Comm
Annabel Beales, Senior Writer, Business Fights Poverty
Olouch Brendah, Aspire Institute Ambassador
Shodigul Mamadyorbekova, Rural Development Advisor, Tajikistan
Robert Matheka, Climate Change and One Health Amref
Simon Munk, Interim Implementation Director for Sustainability, UCLPartners
Haron Muturi, Junior Leader, Wake and Shine SHG
Martin Muchangi, Director for WASH & NTDs, Amref
Zach Pagovski, Director, Foreign Policy
Hamish Taylor, Managing Director, Shinergise Partners
Veronica Vago, Senior Manager Environmental Impact, Bayer Consumer Health
Flora von Miche, Business Fights Poverty Community Member, UK
Moderator: Katie Hyson, Business Fights Poverty
- How can businesses best address the issue of health equity and climate change?
- What are the best examples of businesses taking action on health equity and climate change issues?
- How can we work together for a more positive impact on health equity and climate change?
This is a text-based discussion which remains open, so please do continue to share your insights.
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*** Hello and welcome to Business Fights Poverty’s Online Written Discussion exploring What are the connections between health equity and climate change, and how can businesses play a role? Our live chat discussion takes place on Thursday this week. For anyone wanting to be involved, simply login and then hit reply to introduce yourself here. Yours, Katie ***
Hi everyone! My name is Veronica Vago, Senior Manager, Environmental Impact, for Bayer’s Consumer Health Division. Looking forward to our conversation! https://www.linkedin.com/in/veronica-vago-793a9b17/
Hello Everyone! I am Shodigul, Rural Development Advisor for GIZ, and the founder and owner of several socially oriented businesses in the GBAO Region of Tajikistan. Looking forward to our conversation, and let’s connect on LinkedIn as well: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shodigul-mamadyorbekova/
Hello, I’m Annabel Beales, Senior Writer for Business Fights Poverty. This is such an important issue so I’m really looking forward to the discussion.
Hi everyone! My name is Federica Angius, I am a freelance health and medical writer. I’m really excited to join this conversation and discuss this important topic. Let’s keep in touch on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/angiusfederica/
Hello everyone! My name is Oluoch Brendah, I am an environmentalist, climate activist, feminist and freelance writer based in Nairobi- Kenya. It is my pleasure to meet you all here, and I am super excited to hear your thoughts about the topic! See you soon! We can connect on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/oluoch-brendah-314ba7201/
Hi everyone, am Haron Muturi, a Junior Leader Wake Shine SHG. Am grateful to be on board.!
Hello, I’m Simon Munk. I’m a doctor with a decade of experience leading healthcare policy and transformation work and more recently healthcare decarbonisation within the UK’s national health service
I’m really passionate about how policy can accelerate mitigation of climate change and limit its impacts on health inequity. I’m very much looking forward to the conversation.
Hello, I am Ryan Scherba, Strategic Accounts Manager at Foreign Policy Magazine participating on behalf of my colleague Zach Pagovski, Director, Strategic Partnerships.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ryan-scherba-682b2533/
Zach’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zhikica-zach-pagovski-32394130/
***Hello everyone and welcome to the Business Fights Poverty online written discussion exploring What are the connections between health equity and climate change, and how can businesses play a role?.
***Our first question today:
1. How can businesses best address the issue of health equity and climate change? ***
Please simply hit ‘reply’ to respond.
In summary five ways-
-Cut their Scope 1-3 emissions
-Reduce fossil fuel burning in urban settings
-Invest in reforestation, wetlands and coastal habitat restoration and green cities
-Develop innovation business solutions to help communities and their health systems adapt to climate change
-Support employee health and wellbeing
Ill break these down
I see 4 approaches that business can undertake to address it:
- adopt sustainable practices
- Promote health equity
- Engage in advocacy
- Collaborate with other stakeholders
A. Cut their Scope 1-3 emissions
Climate change is already worsening global health outcomes and is worsening health equity:
- Impacts of climate change greatest in global south- flooding, famine, extreme heat, wildfires
- These all have impact on health physical and mental health
- Poorer communities (including in the global north) have less resources to manage these impacts (are less resilient)
- And their health systems are less able to cope
Decarbonisation makes sense to business for lots of reasons:
- Regulation requires it
- Cost of carbon taxes and cap and trade
- Avoid losing market share
-Huge innovation opportunities
-Consumer and employee pressure
-Doing the right thing
Businesses can create targeted benchmarks and set realistic goals to achieve the net-zero transition through data-based research. This can be done in collaboration with governments, international organizations, and development institutions to identify these benchmarks. Through these, healthcare resilience in communities and countries, especially in marginalized communities and LMICs, can be uplifted while tackling climate change.
A1: Forty percent of the world is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In many cases, these are the same communities that also don’t have access to healthcare. If we think about how climate change is one of the biggest threats to human health of our time, everything that we are doing to foster inclusive growth and expand access to health care and food security, at the end of the day, is climate action. We all know that climate action is not a quick fix. It will take many years before we see the impact of the changes that are being made today.
Businesses—in their myriad roles as employers, suppliers, and investors—need to lean into end-to-end sustainability by taking actions that improve not only the environment but also livelihoods, particularly among vulnerable communities in their value chains. All companies, no matter the industry, can and should be in the business of health - putting strategies and plans in action, focused on minimizing their environmental footprint and how they are improving livelihoods.
Whatever specific approach a business takes to achieve this, it must make environmental and societal sustainability integral to its operations, and secure the full support of leadership so that all decisions, investments, innovations, and measurement systems are meaningfully embedded into the business.
Here are my five ways:
Investing in innovation sector : innovation can lead to production of new products, technologies and services that promote healthy equity incorporating climate change. This may include innovation on such sectors like renewable energy, sustainable transport systems, the green infrastructure, and new innovation in the new treatments and therapies that could address health inequalities.
Prioritizing healthy equity and climate change as their core values: Businesses should incorporate healthy equity and climate change in their main operation values such as policy-making and decision-making policies. This can be practiced through the business adopting climate guarding and sustainable operations and investing in sectors that promote health equity like affordable and friendly healthcare, food and nutrition and safe housing.
Businesses setting sustainability goals: this can help businesses to operate minimize the carbon pollution and be able to consider the harmful effects of climate change. Through them setting goals for clean and efficient energy, adopting renewable energy, waste reduction, business reduce the overall impacts of negatives of the practices hence reducing the environment degradation due to the negative climate change effects.
Involvement of the stakeholders : involvement of the key stage holders such as the customers, community, and employees help the businesses identify the needs of the community better. This can help in the development of initiatives that address the health equity issues of the community and climate change in a more conscious and effective way.
Collaboration: business collaborating with other businesses can help firms achieve the health equity and climate change goals. Business can collaborate in sharing ideas, and resources and coming together to tackle issues that are complex and affects the health of the planet and the life in it.
First and foremost, business can take action to strengthen the health and resilience of people within their own organizations and supply chains, e.g. by enabling access to healthcare and health information. Promote healthy work-life balance and pay living wages to support people to live healthy lives. It’s important not to overlook tackling the mental health impacts of climate change too - particularly the health sector workers who are on the frontlines, but also the general public. Here’s a link to Business Fights Poverty’s recent report on living wages: (https://businessfightspoverty.org/new-report-the-case-for-living-wages-how-paying-living-wages-improves-business-performance-and-tackles-poverty/)
B. Reduce fossil fuel burning in urban settings
-Fossil fuel pollution worsens asthma and heart disease in local communities and poorer communities are particularly impacted
-Urban poorer communities live nearer main roads and nearer industry and hence have a higher exposure to this pollution
-Businesses can reduce staff and fleet transport usage of fossil fuels and use of fossil fuels for generating heat and electricity
There are several connections between health equity and climate change. Climate change significantly impacts the environment, including air quality, water quality, and access to food, which are all important factors affecting health outcomes. In particular, climate change can exacerbate existing health disparities and widen health inequities by disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations, such as low-income communities.
Q1. How can businesses best address the issue of health equity and climate change?
Businesses can address health equity and climate change in several ways, including:
Incorporating sustainability into their operations: Businesses can adopt sustainable practices such as reducing waste, energy consumption, and carbon emissions. They can also incorporate environmentally-friendly products and services into their offerings.
Engaging in social responsibility initiatives: Companies can engage in social responsibility initiatives that address health equity and climate change. This can include philanthropic donations, community engagement, and supporting social and environmental causes.
Collaborating with stakeholders: Businesses can collaborate with governments, NGOs, and community groups to address health equity and climate change issues. This can help to create more impactful and sustainable solutions.
Promoting awareness and education: Companies can promote awareness and education about health equity and climate change through their marketing and advertising efforts. They can also educate their employees and customers about sustainable practices and how to make more environmentally-friendly choices.
Investing in renewable energy and technologies: Companies can invest in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal. They can also invest in technologies that help to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable practices.