Sustainability and health: notes toward a convergence of agendas
Since 1987, the concept of sustainability and sustainable development has developed into a major policy framework for economic development, environmental protection, community development, and perhaps surprisingly but quite effectively, business management. Despite recognition of the importance of health as an element in sustainability, consideration of opportunities for health gains and reducing health disparities has been a secondary consideration. Health is automatically improved by commitment to sustainability. However, sustainability provides a framework within, which health gains and reduction in health disparities is possible and greatly facilitated. Some sustainability measures are obvious in their health benefits: reducing pollution, ensuring food security and quality, maintaining a healthful built environment. Others are not obvious, but have profound indirect effects, such as energy and transportation policy. This paper describes a path to integrating health and sustainability with respect to achieving health gains, building on the existing framework of “health promotion” as both a bridge and a model, and convening a dialogue between professionals in sustainability (primarily through academic environmental studies and sciences) and the health community (both patient-oriented health care and population health sciences).
KeywordsSustainability Health Health gains Population health Health promotion
This development of this work was supported in part by an award as Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in the Institute for Science, Society, and Policy at the University of Ottawa in 2015.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.
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