Sustainability and Health: Supporting Global Ecological Integrity in Public Health

Sustainability And Health
by Valerie A. Brown, John Grootjans, Jan Ritchie, Mardie Townsend and Glenda Verrinder

In Sustainability and Health, Brown, Grootjans, Ritchie, Townsend and Verrinder explore the overlapping issues for the future: environment and health.

Sustainability and Health is a reference for public health and health science practitioners that offers a number of theoretical frameworks for, and practical solutions to problems in, the growing field of environment and health.

Radical changes in the biosphere and human interaction with the environment are increasingly impacting on the health of populations across the world. Diseases are crossing the species barrier, and spreading rapidly through globalised transport systems. From new patterns of cancer to the threat of global pandemics, it is imperative that public health practitioners acknowledge the interdependence between the sustainability of the environment and the sustainability of the human species.

In Sustainability and Health, the authors explore three central questions:

  • Why are issues of global and local sustainability of increasing importance to public health?
  • Why do issues of sustainability require new practices within the public health professions ?
  • How can future and current health practitioners develop those new practices?

More specifically, they seek to address the overall question:

Why do we have to worry about health risks from the environment when life expectancy is increasing all over the world?

Drawing on scientific evidence of global and local environmental changes, Sustainability and Health offers a thorough backgroundand practical solutions to the overlapping issues in environment and health. It examines potential and existing responses to global and local environment and health issues, involving individuals, the community, industry and government.

Sustainability and Health also introduces a range of emerging conceptual frameworks and theoretical perspectives, links IT and epidemiology, and explains how scoping can link program design, delivery, data collection and evaluation in projects from the very beginning. Public health practitioners need to be able to manage health issues that cut across environmental, economic and social systems, and to develop the capacity for leadership and facilitating change.

Incorporating learning activities, readings, international case studies and an open learning approach, this is a valuable resource for students of public and environmental health, as well as medical, environmental and health science professionals.

Most significantly, Sustainability and Health shows that:

  • ‘Sustainability’ has become shorthand for the long-term social and economic changes required to re-establish global environmental integrity, which is the foundation of the planet’s life support systems and, thus, also of the health of the human population.
  • Sustainability practices address the unprecedented global problems of simultaneous disruption of population, finance and governance systems, requiring a fresh approach to social support systems, including public health.
  • Public health practice has now broadened to include matters of:
    • living sustainably
    • listening to multiple perspectives
    • grounding in collaborative frameworks
    • acknowledging multiple forms of evidence
    • scoping the global and local context of public health action
    • acting for global integrity
    • innovating for global integrity
    • managing the sustainability of health and environment in the longterm.