Climate change and environmental health

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The effects of climate change will be wide ranging and are expected to have major effects on our health and environment. Scientists, industry and communities must work together if society is to adapt to the changing climate.

ESR is involved with a range of initiatives to better understand climate change impacts, where they may be most felt, who will be most vulnerable, and what mitigations we may need.

In order to maintain and even improve health now and for future generations, countries need to build resilient health systems to protect people, particularly the most vulnerable, from the health risks related to natural hazards, disaster events and climate change. From our work in the Pacific we have seen and learnt first-hand some of the barriers required to overcome natural and climate-related risks to health. From this experience our team has examined and has incorporated a number of frameworks to create a tool, HAAP-PIC [PDF, 1.4 MB] (Health Adaptation and Action Plan for climate change and disaster risks in Pacific Island Countries) for use in the Pacific. The tool was first piloted in July 2018, in the Kingdom of Tonga and led by the Tongan Ministry of Health. For further information, regarding the tool and how ESR can assist in the Pacific and beyond, please contact: Annette Bolton: or Kamal Khatri:

Our expertise in drinking water safety, water security, infectious disease, vector-borne disease and radiation, allows ESR to provide expert scientific advice to inform climate change planning. Below is a summary of some of the climate change initiatives that ESR is involved with.

Tasman Glacier

Climate Change and Environmental Health report

The effects of climate change will be wide ranging and are expected to have some environmental health effects, i.e. aspects of human health influenced by physical, chemical, biological, social and psychosocial factors in our environment. To help in anticipating future environmental health risks in New Zealand over the next 50 – 100 years so that plans can be put in place for mitigating or adapting to these effects, an understanding of what these effects are, where they might be most felt and who will be most vulnerable to them is needed. 

The Ministry of Health commissioned ESR to undertake a review of the scientific literature relating to climate change and environmental health, to summarise the national and international understanding of these likely effects and to identify gaps in this understanding. The work provides information that can act as a basis for deciding on the next steps needed for putting mitigation and adaptation strategies in place.

Climate Change and Environmental Health report.pdf [PDF, 3.4 MB]

Deep South National Science Challenge

ESR is involved with Vision Mātauranga, one of the five interlinked programmes of the Deep South National Science Challenge(external link), the mission of which is to enable New Zealanders to adapt, manage risk, and thrive in a changing climate. Vision Mātauranga's focus is contribute innovative, practical and sustainable climate adaptation solutions for Māori and all New Zealanders. For the latest news and updates for this Vision Mātauranga programme, go to: link) 

Health analysis & information for action (HAIFA)

ESR with partners Landcare Research, NIWA, Massey University and The University of Waikato, have developed the HAIFA resource system with funding support from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. It is the first international project of its kind. The resource aims to provide central, regional and local authorities with information to help them formulate and plan the implementation of responses and adaptive strategies for increasing human health resilience to the infectious disease consequences of climate variation and change.


Water Supply Vulnerability Assessment Tool [PDF](external link)

Climate Change Water Supplies and Health [PDF](external link)


To access further HAIFA resources go to: link)


Find out more

Contact us to find out more about our climate change work:

Chris Nokes:, Science Leader, ESR, or

Annette Bolton:, Senior Environmental Scientist, ESR