Global Environmental Change and Human Health

ESSP Joint Project


The Chairs and Directors of the ESSP (Earth System Science Partnership) charged DIVERSITAS at their 2002 annual meeting to hold a scoping meeting on GEC and health, on behalf of the four programmes (DIVERSITAS, IGBP, IHDP and WCRP) and START.

This "Global Environmental Change and Health" meeting took place on 27 Feb-1 March 2003 in Paris. It was funded by all ESSP partners, with additional support from the French Institute for Biodiversity (IFB).

The meeting was co-chaired by Prof. Tony McMichael, Director of the Natural Center for Epidemiology and Population Health in Canberra, Australia and Prof. Ulisses Confalonieri, from the National School of Public Health in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with participants from 15 countries, representing various programmes and institutions, and including one representative from WHO (United Nation World Health Organisation), Dr. Carlos Corvalan (Dept. of Protection of the Human Environment, WHO, Geneva). Both co-Chairs have advised the IPCC on health and are advising the MEA (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment).

First, participants agreed that a new joint project on health constitutes a priority. There have been a few IPCC assessments of climate change impacts on health, and there is an on-going assessment of the link between ecosystem changes and health (MEA). There is, however, no long-term research initiative on this topic, and no established international scientific community.

Second, participants produced a draft scientific framework, entitled "Global Environmental Change and Human Health" for consideration by the Chairs and Directors of the four global change programmes at their June 2003 meeting. The document highlights three overarching themes for a new joint project on global environmental change and human health. The Chairs and Directors of ESSP welcomed positively this draft science plan and decided to approve the planning phase of a new ESSP joint project on Global Environmental Change and Human Health.

This science plan will be finalized by November 2003 and will be sent around for consultation to some core projects, the joint projects, WMO and WHO.