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Interdependence between the state of the environment and human well-being should guide policy-making

Climate change, natural disasters and environmental pollution all affect human health. The link between health and the environment has been highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. A coherent EU policy and national decision-making are needed to tackle the problems.


Kirsi Suomalainen

Specialist, Communications and Public Affairs


Calls for an increasingly holistic approach to decision-making, such as taking account of planetary health, have long been recognised.

Planetary health implies the interdependence between human well-being and the state of the environment, which, as a cross-cutting issue, requires better policy coordination and a reduction in siloed decision-making.

The Covid-19 pandemic finally demonstrated the clear need to remove barriers to policymaking in order to improve human, animal and environmental health.

The European Policy Centre (EPC), commissioned by Sitra, has produced a report and recommends ten actions to promote human and environmental health:

  1. Pursue coordinated policy-making by breaking down silos.
  2. Appoint an executive vice president for the well-being economy.
  3. Plan and implement national roadmaps and establish common indicators.
  4. Create best practices platforms.
  5. Adopt the planetary health approach in healthcare.
  6. Promote education on planetary health.
  7. Implement a Europe-wide communication campaign.
  8. Invest in research and innovation.
  9. Promote the integration of the European Health Data Space with other relevant data spaces.
  10. Work with international partners to adopt a global approach to planetary health.

“Taking account of planetary health offers many benefits for both health and the environment. Common diseases can be tackled partly by the same means as the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. At the same time, the quality of our living environment and human well-being will be improved. Without a concerted effort, significant benefits may never be achieved,” says Elina Drakvik, specialist at Sitra.

“Finland is a pioneer in this field in Europe. Our country was one of the first in the world to appoint a physician for planetary health, and the Planetary Health Project of the city of Lahti is used as a successful example internationally. It is important that Finland now develops a national roadmap and increases the number of concrete experiments, for example to strengthen people’s bond with nature. Work should also continue to improve the availability and use of data to corroborate progress in this area.”

The EPC’s Discussion paper Planetary Health: A holistic vision for people and the planet has been produced as part of the Health Data 2030 project, which is developing solutions, fair rules and the means for the cross-border use of health data in Europe and supports the competitiveness of the Finnish health sector.

More information: EPC’s news (19 September 2023)


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