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WFPHA: World Federation of Public Health Associations



Climate change, human health, and unsustainable development The term sustainable development has been misunderstood and misinterpreted, often parodied, and even derided. Today we face the consequences of our wilful dismissal. Climate change is upon us. Had we taken sustainable development more seriously, we might have done far more to create a healthy society and environment. But unbridled economic development, predicated on unfettered use of resources, ever expanding energy production, and consumption in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has damaged the world’s ecological systems and human health. The United Kingdom’s industrial revolution fired economic development that paid scant regard to social and environmental harm. Ensuing environmental and social havoc spawned the public health movement. Great Victorian visionaries – Edwin Chadwick, Joseph Bazelgette, and John Snow – connected these conditions with the disease, pestilence, and social disruption. They launched radical societal and environmental reforms to help promote human health. The World Commission on Environment and Development returned to the connection between economic environment and human health, asserting ‘The resource gap between industrial and developing nations is widening, rule-making on global scale is dominated by industrial nations, and much of the earth’s ecological capital has already been used in industrial development. The Commission views these inequalities as the crux of both the planet’s environmental and development problems. The solution lies in economic growth that is equitable, and environmentally sustainable’.

Year: 2014
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