Business Leadership Brief For Healthy Planet, Healthy People

There is a growing understanding of the interconnections between climate change, the degradation of our natural support systems and human health among scientists, policymakers and the communities directly impacted by the changing climate and biodiversity emergencies. From a global health perspective, the evidence-based links between health and climate change are growing. Dots are being connected between dengue and warmer temperatures; lung disease and air pollution, obesity and urbanization, malnutrition and unsustainable agriculture.

The message is simple: human activity impacts the climate and nature’s ability to regenerate, which in turn impacts human health and well-being, and as a consequence productivity and socio-economic development. Although the logic of this message is embedded in the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, silos within and across sectors of our economy separate global health and climate — and are limiting our pace and progress. 

To create a future where everyone thrives, we need to do more than treat the symptoms of disease. We need to get ahead of the curve and take preventive action against the harmful impacts on the health of the planet and people, recognizing that business-as-usual approaches will not  be enough.

While most businesses understand and recognize their responsibility for the health and safety of their employees, few have connected the dots between their business actions and health outcomes in the market place, in society more generally and in the supply chain. And even fewer are taking integrated health and climate action to generate accelerated impact. Finally, the public health community, civil society and policymakers are becoming increasingly concerned about the “commercial determinants for health,” calling for greater accountability among businesses to recognize their direct and indirect health impacts in society, as well as political and fiscal measures to incentivize change. These barriers to achieving solutions at the intersection of human health and the health of the planet require a mindset shift.

This report outlines concrete actions for companies to embed health and empowerment in their policies, systems, and operations.