Urban health and short-lived climate pollutant reduction project

Mobilising the health sector in support of policy action to mitigate climate change and air pollution
Doctor in Ghana
Ongoing
started:
2017

The health benefits from policies to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) include fewer premature deaths from air pollution-related diseases, as well as a reduction in car traffic and related injuries, and increased levels of physical activity through the promotion of walking and cycling. Similarly, policies to replace kerosene lamps with solar energy or electricity will decrease the number of burns caused by the use of unsafe fuels.

By highlighting the health benefits of SLCP reductions, this project aims to mobilize the health sector in support of policy action to mitigate climate change and air pollution. The emphasis on health is expected to provide a compelling argument for policy makers to take more assertive action to reduce SLCPs. While the multiple health benefits of reducing short-lived climate pollutant emissions can be a strong rationale for policy, these arguments are currently underutilized by the health and environment sectors to unleash action.

The Urban Health and SLCP Reduction Project has three major components:

  • Providing evidence to local stakeholders, strengthening capacity and enabling the local uptake of public health tools
  • Developing analyses of the health benefits from SLCP mitigation strategies, focusing on specific sectors and policies using the local evidence to support action at the local level and help overcome barriers for policy change
  • Strengthening communications targeting policymakers, health sector and the public in the pilot city and promoting the health benefits from CCAC sector initiatives, as well as tools, experiences and lessons learned

Cities have been identified as the focus of this project because they are centres of economic activity, producers and consumers of goods and energy, and sites where many types of SLCP and other pollutant emissions tend to be most concentrated. Human exposure to SLCPs and other air pollutants is high in cities due to large population densities and proximity to pollution sources. This makes cities ideal settings for demonstrating tangible health benefits from SLCP and air pollution mitigation measures.

City governments and stakeholders have significant influence over policy decisions and investments within their jurisdictions, which can lead to reduced SLCP emissions from sources, such as transport, waste management and energy. Sustainability policies adopted by urban “innovators” have been shown to motivate other cities to adopt similar policies, while also contributing to national decisions.

The health benefits of urban SLCP mitigation measures can be enjoyed by local populations and in the near term. All of these factors make the promotion of SLCP interventions in cities attractive for local politicians.

Challenges

Mobilizing the health sector to call for action to reduce air pollution will require greater awareness of local health risks as well as access to local evidence about the health benefits associated with specific SLCP mitigation measures. Within the health community, there is also a need for additional capacity to monitor, evaluate, and communicate the health opportunities achieved with air pollution policies and interventions, such as the number lives saved and reduced health care treatment costs.

Additional support is needed to make urban policymakers and residents aware of the simple and cost-effective measures to reduce SLCP emissions that will bring co-benefits for public health, economic productivity and development. 

Objectives

This project seeks to provide cities a model for building capacity within the health sector so it can better communicate the health risks of air pollution and climate change to the public and other economic sectors.

The activities proposed under the project focus on mobilizing and empowering the health sector as key actors in demonstrating the health and health care cost benefits of identified SLCP reduction strategies and actions at the city level. By engaging support for the implementation of policies to achieve emission reductions, the health sector will help empower city level policy makers and their constituencies to act on SLCPs.

Cities will also be encouraged to link with national level decision making through collaboration with the Coalition’s National Planning initiative and sector-based initiatives

What we're doing

The Coalition’s Health initiative is collaborating with partners on the ground in Accra, Ghana and Kathmandu, Nepal, to develop an online health impact assessment toolkit and communication materials that will be promoted through the BreatheLife campaign.

Who's involved

Lead Partner: A Coalition partner with an active role in coordinating, monitoring and guiding the work of an initiative.

Implementer: A Coalition partner or actor receiving Coalition funds to implement an activity or initiative.

Partners (9)

Resources & tools

Activity contact

Sandra Cavalieri,
Urban Health Initiative Coordinator
Sandra.Cavalieri [at] un.org

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