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.
Using this experience our team examined and incorporated a number of frameworks to create a tool for use in the Pacific: Health Adaptation and Action Plan for climate change and disaster risks in Pacific Island Countries [PDF, 1.4 MB] (HAAP-PIC).
Led by the Tongan Ministry of Health, the tool was first piloted in July 2018 in the Kingdom of Tonga and resulted in this paper: Strengthening Adaptation Planning and Action to Climate-Related Health Impacts in Pacific Islands Countries: Tonga(external link)
For further information, regarding the tool and how ESR can assist in the Pacific and beyond, please contact Matt Ashworth Matthew.Ashworth@esr.cri.nz or Sarah Nelson Sarah.Nelson@esr.cri.nz
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.
Developing a climate change adaptation system
The effects of climate change will be wide ranging and are expected to have impacts directly and indirectly on human health and the health system. To help anticipate future health risks in New Zealand, adaptation plans can be put in place for mitigating or adapting to climate related effects.
Previous work has identified some key questions and considerations for health adaptation planning in New Zealand. See Considerations for developing a Health National Adaptation Plan for New Zealand report 2019 [PDF, 1 MB].
The Ministry of Health commissioned ESR to undertake a qualitative study to determine stakeholder views and expert knowledge on climate change related adaptation planning for health. This report examines stakeholder views and expert knowledge on climate change related adaptation planning for health in order to understand stakeholders’ perspectives on the development, effectiveness and utility of a health adaptation plan.
Considerations for developing a Health National Adaptation Plan
Climate change is likely to have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable groups in society. Due to the challenges ahead, many countries have prepared specific health national adaptation plans (HNAPs) as a strategy to help prepare and manage the health impacts associated with a changing global climate.
The Ministry of Health commissioned ESR to undertake a review of considerations that need to be made when developing a health national adaptation plan (HNAP).
The report provides information on key differences between national adaptation plans (NAPs) and HNAPs including comparisons from a selection of international plans, frameworks and guidelines. The outcomes from this work feed into a report on stakeholder perspectives on adaptation planning for health - Developing a climate change adaptation system for health outcomes: Stakeholder perspectives report 2020 [PDF, 947 KB].
Climate Change and Environmental Health
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.
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: www.deepsouthchallenge.co.nz/programmes/vision-matauranga(external link)
From Health Sector Waste Minimisation Towards a Circular Economy
Of the 1.47 billion tonnes of solid waste that is produced each year globally, 5.9 million tonnes (approx. 16,164 tonnes per day) are estimated to be a result of health care waste. This figure has increased year on year, and the COVID-19 pandemic has served as an extreme example of the challenges for sustainable health care waste. Aotearoa New Zealand's health care sector is estimated to contribute between 3% and 8% of national carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions. For comparison, the UK and the USA emit 4% and 10%, respectively, of their national CO2e from health care. Efforts are required to reduce waste production, landfill use and unnecessary procurement costs that arise from district health board activities, thus realising financial, environmental, cultural, health, wellbeing and social benefits.
Read the report From Health Sector Waste Minimisation Towards a Circular Economy [PDF, 1.4 MB] prepared for the Ministry of Health by ESR experts.
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.
Find out more
Contact us to find out more about our climate change work:
Belinda Cridge: Belinda.Cridge@esr.cri.nz, Science Leader - Health & Environment
Annette Bolton: Annette.Bolton@esr.cri.nz, Senior Scientist (Climate Change)
Matt Ashworth: Matthew.Ashworth@esr.cri.nz, Senior Scientist (Pacific)