Planetary health: understanding the links between environmental degradation and health impacts


Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)

Deadline: Thursday 13th of April, 2023

Globally, life quality and expectancy have increased to unprecedented levels over the last decades due to the significant public health, agricultural, industrial and technological achievements of the 20th century. On the other hand, the ongoing trend of environmental degradation and global climate and environmental changes has introduced new pressures, which involve large impacts on human health and might put at risk the recent public health gains.

Among others, climate change, biodiversity loss, biological invasions, environmental pollution, changes in land use and degradation, deforestation, thawing permafrost (in polar regions, and particularly in the Arctic), overfishing, new animal diseases and acidification of water bodies can result in reduced food and water availability and safety and increased exposure to factors causing infectious and non-communicable diseases. Additionally, changes in weather and climate extremes have been observed across the globe, resulting in an increase of the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heavy precipitation and floods, heat waves and hot extremes, droughts and tropical cyclones.
There is increasing evidence showing that many of these environmental stressors and changes can cause profound short- and long-term negative impacts on human health and well-being, contributing to increased morbidity and mortality worldwide. Understanding and acting upon these challenges calls for a multidisciplinary, cross-sectorial and trans-border approach ranging from the local to the global scale. The effects can be direct due to increases in floods, heatwaves, water shortages, landslides, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, exposure to pollutants, among others, or indirect and complex, as climate change -mediated or ecosystem-mediated. In addition, it is imperative that the solutions and initiatives chosen to prevent environmental degradation are safe for human health and the environment.
Planetary health is a concept focused on the interdependencies between human health and the state of earth’s complex natural systems. A key focus is on understanding how the current trend of human-related environmental degradation can affect the health and well-being of current and future generations. The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health[1] published a report in 2015, laying the foundation for the development of this important new field of study[2]. In 2020 the Helsinki declaration[3] was published, resulting from a conference where participants discussed how to implement the planetary health approach in Europe in the context of the European Green Deal. Planetary health is also a priority topic in the research agenda in environment, climate and health proposed by the Coordination and support action HERA[4].
Applicants are invited to submit proposals providing actionable evidence for policymakers to take preventive actions to protect the human health and wellbeing by exploring the links between human health and environmental degradation in an integrated and comprehensive manner. More fragmented contributions focused on less studied aspects such as the links between climate change and health and, between biodiversity and health, will also be considered.
Read more about this funding opportunity here.