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GHF2012 – PL06 – Closing Session – Chronic Diseases: A Primer for a Sustainable Future?

Session Outline

Plenary session PL06, Friday, April 20 2012, 15:45-17:15, Room 2
Chair(s): Maria Neira, Departement of Public Health and Environment World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, Louis Loutan, Division of International and Humanitarian Medicine, Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switerland
Summary: In line with the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, one might recall that the precedent Rio Declaration on Environment and Development of 1992, recognized that healthy populations are central to human progress and sustainable development. While this statement remains equally true today, the last few decades have shown that the economic pillar has been prioritized at the expense of the social and environmental pillars of sustainable development, becoming itself a source of volatility and destabilization.
The current economic model while bringing many benefits results in many negative externalities on both our health and our environment. The rise of chronic diseases is partly due to unhealthy lifestyles, overconsumption and or exposure to harmful products (tobacco, alcohol, pollution), exacerbated by globalization and market integration in a context of widening disparities and power imbalances.
This session aims to re-examine the relationship between health and sustainable development reflecting how in the current economic model, can we think about a future in which environmental, societal, and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of development and improved quality of life. Doing so we would like to stress that key policy measures aiming at promoting sustainable development will also help to prevent chronic diseases and vice versa.
“Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development, and that they are entitled to a healthy and productive life, in harmony with nature. The goals of sustainable development can only be achieved in the absence of a high prevalence of debilitating diseases, while obtaining health gains for the whole population requires poverty eradication. There is an urgent need to address the causes of ill health, including environmental causes, and their impact on development, with particular emphasis on women and children, as well as vulnerable groups of society, such as people with disabilities, elderly persons and indigenous people.”
Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992.
Cheryl Hicks, SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 Project, UNEP/Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Wuppertale, Germany
Sonia Roschnik, NHS Sustainable Development Unit, United Kingdom
Martin Beniston, Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Hemant Darbari, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC ), Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Pune, India

Session Documents

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Session Video

One thought on “GHF2012 – PL06 – Closing Session – Chronic Diseases: A Primer for a Sustainable Future?

  1. In looking at sustainability and the health system there is the need for a change in mindset in the health system. The NHS Sustainable Development Unit is a perfect example of this.

    The environment is a health issue and therefore as in previous sessions about health systems and innovation the individual needs to be placed at the centre of the solutions. That said is the 8 tonne lifestyle feasible? Should the onus be put on the individual or on governments?

    A total transformation is needed to build in sustainability to health and healthcare. We need leadership and willingness for this change to happen.

    Another link to an earlier session is food security and climate change! Some worrying statistics shown by Professor Beniston!

    Is technology and innovation as presented yesterday the solution? Technology though uses resources, electricty and produces a lot of waste which in turn contributes to global warming and unsustainable use of resources.

    Climate change really got on the agenda when an economic perspective was taken. Sustainability needs to be accounted for from an economic perspective and develop a triple bottom line. Health co-benefits need to also be accounted for, but it is not all about the money and showing everything in financial terms.

    So in conclusion another complex challenge that we need to address… That said low, middle and high income countries are all faced with the challenges of sustainability, climate change and chronic conditions. No one has yet to find the solution for these problems so we can all learn from each other’s experiences.

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