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WMHPG news, information and resources 2 August 2019

We do not accept responsibility for the availability, reliability or content of these news items and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them.

Sustainable development goals

More responses to the recent public health green paper;

  • RCP ‘disappointed’ by government’s public health green paper: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/rcp-disappointed-government-s-public-health-green-paper “In 2019, we shouldn’t still be talking about “helping to shift the health system away from just treating illness, and towards preventing problems in the first place”. Prevention should be the very basis of our health and care system. We have known for hundreds of years that it is possible to lead healthier lives, and for decades that there are reasonable, low cost ways of helping people to do just that.”
  • The prevention green paper, five out of ten: https://gregfellpublichealth.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/the-prevention-green-paper-5-out-of-ten-see-me-after-class “My initial skin led me to a comment it is basically more of the same old same old – Precision this, genomic that, personal responsibility, predictive prevention (whatever that means). There’s a lot of unfounded, un evidence based of actually debunked ideas in there. The notion that greater personal responsibility for health would lead to big gains was last laid to bed in the 90s. In many respects it might be characterised as a contemporary reboot of Our Healthier Nation from the early 90s, but with gizmos and genomics… I re read it. There ARE some important ideas in there. There IS much to cheer content wise, and many eye catching proposals. Whether they ACTUALLY make it over the line given the seeming opposition of PM and those other corporate, commercially, ideologically opposed factions is debatable.”

Health inequalities: place-based approaches to reduce inequalities: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-inequalities-place-based-approaches-to-reduce-inequalities “Everyone deserves the same opportunities to lead a healthy life, no matter where they live or who they are and the ingredients for a healthy life are relatively straight-forward: a good education, a decent job, a suitable roof over our head, friendships and networks to feel part of. It’s because these social and environmental factors are so important that local government and local areas have such a crucial role to play, forging alliances across their community that boost wellbeing and reduce inequalities. To inform this vital work PHE, LGA and ADPH have worked together to publish Place-Based Approaches for Reducing Health Inequalities.”

Health in Hard Times: http://www.oapen.org/search?identifier=1004984 Free eBook  “…this is an important book for anyone seeking to understand one of today’s most significant determinants of health. How has austerity impacted on health and wellbeing in the UK? Health in Hard Times explores its repercussions for social inequalities in health.”

Social Metrics Commission 2019 Report: https://socialmetricscommission.org.uk/new-report-on-poverty-from-independent-commission-highlights-scale-of-challenge-facing-new-prime-minister/ “A new report published today by the Social Metrics Commission (SMC) highlights the scale of the challenge facing new Prime Minister Boris Johnson when it comes to tackling poverty across the UK. The report reveals that 4.5 million people are more than 50% below the poverty line, and 7 million people are living in persistent poverty.”

Culture of Health Measures Compendium: https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2019/07/culture-of-health-measures-compendium.html “The action framework provided a launching point for developing RWJF’s Culture of Health measurement strategy and measures. The first action area involves making health a shared value to forge a common cause around a Culture of Health. The second action area concerns fostering cross-sector collaboration to improve well-being. The third action area involves creating healthier, and more equitable communities. The fourth action area focuses on strengthening integration of health services and systems, to increase individuals’ access to high-quality, efficient, and integrated systems of public health, health care, and social services. The ultimate outcome of action in each of these four areas reflects improved population health, well-being, and equity.”

Healthy planning & environment

Updated Planning Practice Guidance - Healthy and safe communities: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/health-and-wellbeing “The design and use of the built and natural environments, including green infrastructure are major determinants of health and wellbeing. Planning and health need to be considered together in two ways: in terms of creating environments that support and encourage healthy lifestyles, and in terms of identifying and securing the facilities needed for primary, secondary and tertiary care, and the wider health and care system (taking into account the changing needs of the population).”

Building therapeutic cities to tackle mental health problems – experts discuss: https://theconversation.com/building-therapeutic-cities-to-tackle-mental-health-problems-experts-discuss-119791 “Modern cities can serve as citadels of freedom, tolerance and creativity. But factors that contribute to poor mental health – such as economic turbulence, a faster pace of life, austerity, inequality, poverty and environmental threats – seem to coalesce in urban centres in especially intense ways. As such, some research has identified unique strains on the psychological well-being of city-dwellers (though the extent to which they are a particularly stressed group remains the subject of considerable debate).”

How to keep buildings cool without air conditioning – according to an expert in sustainable design: https://theconversation.com/how-to-keep-buildings-cool-without-air-conditioning-according-to-an-expert-in-sustainable-design-121004 “The warmer it gets, the more people crank up the air conditioning (AC). In fact, AC is booming in nations across the world: it’s predicted that around two thirds of the world’s households could have an air conditioner by 2050, and the demand for energy to cool buildings will triple. But unless the energy comes from renewable sources, all that added demand will generate more greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming – and of course, to hotter summers. It’s a vicious cycle – but buildings can be designed to keep the heat out, without contributing to climate change.”

  • What is Passivhaus? http://passivhaustrust.org.uk/what_is_passivhaus.php “Passivhaus buildings provide a high level of occupant comfort while using very little energy for heating and cooling. They are built with meticulous attention to detail and rigorous design and construction according to principles developed by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany, and can be certified through an exacting quality assurance process.”

Birmingham - True value of city’s parks and open spaces calculated at £11billion: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/news/article/454/true_value_of_city_s_parks_and_open_spaces_calculated_at_11billion “An academic study, led by Birmingham City Council and the Consultancy for Environmental Economics & Policy, reached the conclusion – with the city council now looking at ways to unlock this potential to maximise the benefits for citizens and visitors.”

Five stories about local authority planning: https://www.rtpi.org.uk/knowledge/policy/policy-papers/resourcing-planning/five-stories-about-local-authority-planning/ “This paper explores how local authorities fund planning in England, focusing on five stories which emerge from local authority spending data. We consider the current level of resourcing of local planning authorities, point to the problems arising from reduced expenditure, and make a case for increased spending on planning as an efficient way of delivering social outcomes.”

A lesson from Loch Carron: https://www.openseas.org.uk/category/news/ “What happened in Loch Carron is a window into the bright future that could exist along our coastline and a lifeboat moment for sustainable fishing in Scotland. It shows what can be achieved with popular will, local support and political leadership – that the guardianship of our seabed for future generations is possible, and is a good thing for coastal communities.”

Under Brazil’s Far Right Leader, Amazon Protections Slashed and Forests Fall: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/28/world/americas/brazil-deforestation-amazon-bolsonaro.html “The destruction of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil has increased rapidly since the nation’s new far-right president took over and his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining.”

Housing

This year marks 100 years since the Housing, Town Planning Act 1919 (the ‘Addison Act’) – which was passed to allow the building of new houses after the first world war, and ushered in a century of social housing.

Legislative Reform Is Important In Improving Standards In The UK Private Rented Sector, But It’s Not The Only Change Needed: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/news/legislative-reform-is-important-in-improving-standards-in-the-uk-private-rented-sector-but-its-not-the-only-change-needed/ “Our report on the changing policy and regulatory landscape, published today, is the first output from our collaboration with the TDS Charitable Foundation and the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust. The report explores the substantial recent changes which have occurred in the regulation of the private rented sector in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

MPs accuse government of wasting ‘unique opportunity’ to ease UK’s housing shortage: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/housing-crisis-uk-affordable-homes-shortage-government-report-a9018776.html “The government has “a unique opportunity” to alleviate Britain’s housing crisis by selling off surplus public land, but it has been squandered due to a lack of proper controls on what the land is then used for and other failures, according to MPs.”

Housing group offers mental health awareness training to almost 700 staff: https://lbndaily.co.uk/housing-group-offers-mental-health-awareness-training-almost-700-staff/ “Almost 700 staff at Liverpool housing and regeneration group Regenda have undergone mental health awareness training. Many firms and organisations are now recognising that addressing mental health in the workplace is both good for employees and good for business, offering people the support they need and contributing to higher productivity.”

Climate change & sustainability

No evidence for globally coherent warm and cold periods over the preindustrial Common Era: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1401-2 “The “globally coherent” rise in temperatures seen since the start of the industrial revolution is “unparalleled” in at least the past 2,000 years, a new study says.”

Macroeconomic and Financial Stability: Implications of Climate Change: https://www.banque-france.fr/sites/default/files/media/2019/07/23/ngfs_report_technical_supplement_final.pdf “Understanding macro-financial changes is a core part of central banks’ and financial supervisors’ responsibilities. This paper aims to summarise the academic work done to model the impact from climate change on the economy and on the financial system, to set out indicators that can be used to monitor these risks and identify some of the areas for future research.”

Emissions inequality: there is a gulf between global rich and poor: https://theconversation.com/emissions-inequality-there-is-a-gulf-between-global-rich-and-poor-113804 “This point has been made before, but bears repeating. Most of the world’s population produces very little in the way of either carbon emissions or broader environmental impacts. We can go further here by also looking at imported carbon emissions – that is, the emissions that come from the production of goods and services in countries such as China that are then consumed in the wealthy countries of the global north. If we include imported emissions, the UK’s overall emissions have only marginally decreased since 1990.”

Low-carbon energy makes majority of UK electricity for first time: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/25/low-carbon-energy-makes-majority-of-uk-electricity-for-first-time “Low-carbon energy was used to generate more than half of the electricity used in the UK for the first time last year, according to official data. A rapid rise in renewable energy, combined with low-carbon electricity from nuclear reactors, made up almost 53% of generation in 2018, the government’s annual review of energy statistics revealed. Renewable energy sources set a new record by meeting a third of the UK’s power generation last year after the UK’s capacity to generate power from the sun, wind, water and waste grew by 10%. The UK’s use of coal fell by a quarter to a record low of just 5%, according to the report.”

Wide coverage of the Europe wide heatwave;

The impact of heat exposure on reduced gestational age in pregnant women in North Carolina, 2011–2015: https://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00484-019-01773-3 “The results reveal significant impacts to pregnant women exposed to heat with regional variations. The exposure variable with the most stable and significant result was minimum temperature, indicating high overnight temperatures have the most impact on preterm birth. The magnitude of this impact varies across regions from a 1% increase in risk to 6% increase in risk per two-degree increment above established minimum temperature thresholds.”

'Unprecedented': more than 100 Arctic wildfires burn in worst ever season: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/26/unprecedented-more-than-100-wildfires-burning-in-the-arctic-in-worst-ever-season “The Arctic region has recorded its hottest June ever. Since the start of that month, more than 100 wildfires have burned in the Arctic circle. In Russia, 11 of 49 regions are experiencing wildfires. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations’ weather and climate monitoring service, has called the Arctic fires “unprecedented”. The largest blazes, believed to have been caused by lightning, are located in Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Buryatia. Winds carrying smoke have caused air quality to plummet in Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia.”

Climate more pressing than Brexit, say 71% of Britons – poll: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/26/climate-more-pressing-than-brexit-say-71-of-britons-poll “The ComRes survey, commissioned by Christian Aid, found that 71% of the UK public agreed that climate change would be more important than the country’s departure from the EU in the long term. Six out of 10 adults said the government was not doing enough to prioritise the climate crisis.”

A brief introduction to climate change and national security: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/07/a-brief-introduction-to-climate-change-and-national-security/ “The idea that a warming planet threatens stability around the globe is not a new one. The U.S. Naval War College began studying the topic as early as the late 1980s, and over the past three decades a steady stream of analyses from the U.S. Defense Department, private think tanks, and other organizations have pointed to threats that climate change poses to peace and stability.”

Fortress Europe and climate apocalypse: https://theecologist.org/2019/jul/28/fortress-europe-and-climate-apocalypse “If fighting the climate apocalypse means saving lives, then part of our perspective must be open borders. To the degree that the powers of finance and fossil fuel capital allow themselves brains and hearts and plans, their vision must be that they will preserve some bastions of comfort for themselves and their families, some enclave in a temperate zone – northern Scotland? – where they can continue to drink champagne, in mansions air-conditioned with the help of precious metals extracted by slave labour in tropical heat.”

Who funded XR 'extremism' report? https://theecologist.org/2019/jul/19/who-funded-xr-extremism-report “The Policy Exchange, which has long refused to reveal its financial backers, commissioned retired terrorism police officer Richard Walton to write the headline-grabbing report. Walton was previously best known for his controversial role in police spying on the family of murdered schoolboy Stephen Lawrence.”

Active travel & transport

London boroughs eye £750 workplace parking charge: https://www.transport-network.co.uk/London-boroughs-eye-750-workplace-parking-charge/16023 “Several London boroughs are considering introducing workplace parking levies (WPLs) of at least £750 a year to cut pollution and encourage active travel.”

Air quality & pollution

Serious pollution on the rise amid Environment Agency cutbacks: https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/07/26/environment-agency-rivers-pollution-uk/ “The past year saw a sharp rise in the number of serious pollution incidents across England, reversing a long trend of year-on-year improvements, new figures show. Figures released by the Environment Agency (EA) this week reveal the number of serious or significant pollution incidents shot up to 493 in 2018-19 – 14% higher than the previous year, and nearly 25% higher than the agency’s target of 400.”

City transport bodies call on Government to make practical policy changes to improve air quality: http://www.urbantransportgroup.org/media-centre/press-releases/city-transport-bodies-call-government-make-practical-policy-changes “A coalition of city region transport authorities have today called on Government to make five practical policy changes to help assist them in improving air quality in their areas.”

Why transport planning is vital to improving air quality: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/07/24/why-transport-planning-is-vital-to-improving-air-quality/ “There are many contributory sources to air pollution, but transport is the big one. It is responsible for approximately half of the NOX emissions in the UK,  and those emissions tend to be emitted close to where people live and work. Road transport is the largest single source of NOX and the air close to busy roads is where we find the worst quality in the Country. Road transport also produces PM pollution, which is from both the wear of brakes and tyres and produced as a side product of combustion in the engine. These two road-transport based sources make up 12 per cent of the smallest and most dangerous type of PM, PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 micro-metres in diameter) which can enter the bloodstream via the lungs.”

                                                                                                                            

Cool ideas to clean up pollution from cars, trucks, ships and planes: https://www.eco-business.com/news/cool-ideas-to-clean-up-pollution-from-cars-trucks-ships-and-planes/ “Rotor sails, bubble pumps, battery-powered jets, and next-generation fuel cells. As pressure mounts for the entire transport sector to wean itself off fossil fuels, these technologies are gaining traction.”

Outdoor workers should be given guidance on air pollution during heatwave, say experts: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/07/25/outdoor-workers-should-be-given-guidance-on-air-pollution-during-heatwave-say-experts/ “The British Safety Council has called on the government to issue guidance for outdoor workers who will be subjected to higher levels of air pollution during Britain’s heatwave.”

Food & food security

Agriculture, achieving net-zero emissions inquiry launched: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/news-parliament-2017/agriculture-achieving-net-zero-emissions-inquiry-launch-17-19/ “The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry examines how agriculture can achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 whilst maintaining food production. It will also look at how those affected in farming communities can be supported through the transition fairly.”

Climate change is affecting crop yields and reducing global food supplies: https://theconversation.com/amp/climate-change-is-affecting-crop-yields-and-reducing-global-food-supplies-118897 “...To analyze these questions, a team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment spent four years collecting information on crop productivity from around the world. We focused on the top 10 global crops that provide the bulk of consumable food calories: Maize (corn), rice, wheat, soybeans, oil palm, sugarcane, barley, rapeseed (canola), cassava and sorghum. Roughly 83 percent of consumable food calories come from just these 10 sources. Other than cassava and oil palm, all are important U.S. crops.”

Global Food Security – The Challenge: https://www.foodsecurity.ac.uk/challenge/ “Food security occurs when all people are able to access enough safe and nutritious food to meet their requirements for a healthy life, in ways the planet can sustain into the future. However, food security faces a number of challenges across both production and consumption which research will be essential to solve. Many countries are facing the double burden of hunger and undernutrition alongside overweight and obesity, with one in three people across the globe currently suffering from some form of malnutrition. Indeed it is not unusual to find people with different forms of malnutrition living side-by-side in one country, in one community, or even in the same household.”

Chapter 1. Food security and trade: an overview: http://www.fao.org/3/y4671e/y4671e05.htm#TopOfPage “This chapter seeks to link the concerns of developing countries with respect to trade, food security and economic policy in the context of the Doha Round negotiations. It defines the changing conceptual basis of food security and presents some indicators and estimates of trends in aggregate food security status. This is followed by a review of approaches to food security at the household level, and of frameworks for investigating the wide range of factors influencing food security status at this level of disaggregation.”

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