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WMHPG news, information and resources 11 October 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

Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The Gender Snapshot 2019: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/progress-sustainable-development-goals-gender-snapshot-2019 “UN Women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs have released “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2019”. This publication brings together the latest available evidence on gender equality across all 17 Goals, underscoring the progress made as well as the action still needed to accelerate progress.”

Structurally Unsound: exploring inequalities – igniting research to better inform UK policy: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/grand-challenges/sites/grand-challenges/files/structurally-unsound-report.pdf “Inequalities are deeply embedded in our society, permeating throughout our social structures and institutions. Legislative responses that outlaw discriminatory behaviours and promote positive change are an essential part of the battle, but the structural nature of horizontal inequalities (that is, those that apply to entire groups such as women, disabled people, LGBT individuals, and people of colour rather than just at the individual level) mean that they are not necessarily sufficient. That is particularly the case once we account for additional complications associated with the intersection of various forms of horizontal inequality. The inequalities faced by women of colour are not simply those faced by white women with a racial element ‘added on’: they are fundamentally different.”

Just tax: Reforming the taxation of income from wealth and work: https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/just-tax “This briefing paper focusses on two sets of proposals designed to make the taxation of income simpler, more progressive and better able to raise public money. The proposals are united by the principle that income, regardless of source, should be taxed equally across individuals.”

Community engagement to reduce inequalities in health: a systematic review, meta-analysis and economic analysis: https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/85w02 “Overall, community engagement interventions are effective in improving health behaviours, health consequences, participant self-efficacy and perceived social support for disadvantaged groups. There are some variations in the observed effectiveness, suggesting that community engagement in public health is more likely to require a ‘fit for purpose’ rather than ‘one size fits all’ approach. We identified trends in the evidence that could provide useful directions for future intervention design and evaluation.”

Vaccinations and herd immunity – an animation that explains how herd immunity works: https://twitter.com/RARohde/status/1179323361274580992 “So, I made a little animation trying to explain how herd immunity works. When enough of the population has been vaccinated, a disease is no longer able to spread effectively, protecting even the unvaccinated.  The percentage needed varies with the disease.”

Austerity and the gender-age gap in the 2015 and 2017 general elections: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/gender-austerity-and-vote-choice/ “In our latest article in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations, we explore whether austerity policies led to gender differences in voting behaviour in Britain. In doing so, we use the British Election Study’s face-to-face post-election surveys to examine vote choice at the 2015 and 2017 British general elections.”

Spending on youth services cut 73% in decade: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Spending-on-youth-services-cut-73-in-decade/48291 “A new analysis from the Labour Party has revealed that public spending on youth services in England has been reduced by £1bn – or 73% – since 2010. The study, which the party has published alongside its promise to introduce a new national ‘Youth Service Guarantee’, also found that the cuts have led to hundreds of youth centres closing. Over 750 youth centres have closed their doors since 2012 and 14,500 youth and community work jobs have been lost since 2008, the party’s analysis found.”

Healthy planning & environment

RTPI - A Smarter Approach to Infrastructure Planning: https://www.rtpi.org.uk/integratedinfrastructure “There is evidence of a disconnect between infrastructure and planning, and demand for a more joined-up approach that proactively addresses the infrastructure needs of new development and the deficits of existing settlements alike. Without this, the UK will struggle to reduce the productivity gap that exists relative to its international competitors, to meet its international obligations on climate change mitigation, to adapt to growing environmental risks, to deliver the quality and quantity of housing currently required, and to create healthy, sustainable places. But across the country, people are developing new ways of collaborating, sharing information and using technology to plan infrastructure in a more efficient and coordinated way. This research takes an in-depth look at how infrastructure planning takes place in city-regions and counties across England and Scotland, the barriers experienced, and what needs to change.”

State Of Nature 2019: https://nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019/ “State Of Nature 2019 presents an overview of how the country’s wildlife is faring, looking back over nearly 50 years of monitoring to see how nature has changed in the UK, its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. As well as this long-term view, we focus on what has happened in the last decade, and so whether things are getting better or worse for nature. In addition, we have assessed the pressures that are acting on nature, and the responses being made, collectively, to counter these pressures.” – media coverage: Populations of UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted since 1970: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/03/populations-of-uks-most-important-wildlife-have-plummeted-since-1970

Inheriting the Earth? The unprecedented challenge of environmental breakdown for younger generations: https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/inheriting-the-earth “Younger generations, in addition to being economically worse off than their parents, face a future of unprecedented environmental breakdown. They will disproportionately bear the burden of having to rapidly transform economic systems in order to decelerate environmental breakdown while withstanding its increasingly destabilising consequences; an unprecedented challenge. Leaders in older generations are failing to act and so younger and future generations face a toxic inheritance: a future of compounding environmental breakdown and destabilisation. In response, many young people are already leading the discussion on the threats of environmental breakdown and the need for action. This leadership should be better recognised, including through formal representation of the interests of younger and future generations in decision-making systems.”

'A masterpiece': Norwich council houses win Stirling architecture prize: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/oct/08/stirling-prize-architecture-goldsmith-street-norwich-council-houses “One hundred years since the 1919 Addison Act paved the way for the country’s programme of mass council housing, the prize for the best new building in the UK has been awarded to one of the first new council housing projects in a generation. Goldsmith Street in Norwich represents what has become a rare breed: streets of terraced homes built directly by the council, rented with secure tenancies at fixed social rents. And it’s an architectural marvel, too.”

Green roofs improve the urban environment – so why don’t all buildings have them? https://theconversation.com/green-roofs-improve-the-urban-environment-so-why-dont-all-buildings-have-them-123420 “A recent report in the UK suggested that the green roof market there is expanding at a rate of 17% each year. The world’s largest rooftop farm will open in Paris in 2020, superseding similar schemes in New York City and Chicago. Stuttgart, in Germany, is thought of as “the green roof capital of Europe”, while Singapore is even installing green roofs on buses.”

Badger culling may increase spread of tuberculosis, say researchers: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/09/badger-culling-may-increase-spread-of-tuberculosis-say-researchers “Badgers start to roam much further afield when culling starts nearby, research has found, potentially increasing the spread of bovine tuberculosis, the disease culling is meant to control. The findings raise questions about the government’s culling strategy, begun in 2011 and intended to reduce the harm to dairy herds from a rising incidence of bovine TB in hotspots around the country. Last month the government announced a major extension.”

If We Connect Fragmented Habitat, New Species Will Come, Study Shows: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/study-shows-new-species-will-show-if-we-connect-fragmented-habitat-180973234/ “Now, an 18-year-long published in the journal Science is one of the first long-term experiments to confirm that hypothesis, showing that relatively small habitat corridors can have big impacts on conservation parcels.”


Evidence tools - Our Evidence Tools support those working in homelessness to have greater impact: https://www.homelessnessimpact.org/tools “Our Evidence Tools for homelessness put evidence at people's fingertips, making the evidence that’s available easier to assess and use. Current tools show what the evidence says about homelessness interventions and help you make smarter decisions about how to best serve those experiencing homelessness in the future. We believe that over time these and future tools we develop will form a vital infrastructure to end homelessness effectively.”

Rent caps needed to curb housing crisis, report says: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Rent-caps-needed-to-curb-housing-crisis-report-says/48272 “A new report from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and One Manchester, calls for the rollout of Scottish-style ‘rental pressure zones’ to curb spiralling rents. Looking specifically at the housing crisis in Manchester, the report found that house prices in Manchester have quadrupled in recent years, with 48% of millennial renters cutting back on basics like food and heating to pay for housing costs.”

Cache Response To Mhclg Section 21 Consultation: https://housingevidence.ac.uk/news/cache-response-to-mhclg-section-21-consultation/ “In October 2019, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) launched a consultation asking for views on implementing the government’s decision to remove Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 in England and improve Section 8 eviction grounds. In this response, we point to that research undertaken by the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) relating to the question set out in the consultation.”

Local Housing Allowance 'inadequate' for family homes, research warns: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Local-Housing-Allowance-inadequate-for-family-homes-research-warns/48279 “Research by the National Housing Federation (NHF) found 94% of homes are unaffordable to local housing allowance claimants, with some towns only having one affordable property available. The NHF found there are some parts of the country where less than 1% of private rented properties are covered by the Local Housing Allowance rate.”

Homeless photographer's haunting images spotlight London's 'invisible' population: http://www.thisisplace.org/i/?id=b015d61c-5055-468d-99f4-d9e77b3d8f74 “The largely black and white photos conjure the invisibility of the homeless, Palfreyman said, as well as the way in which homeless people around the world are often looked down upon, both physically and metaphorically.”

Climate change & sustainability

Evidence for sharp increase in the economic damages of extreme natural disasters: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/10/01/1907826116 “Our results are consistent with an upwardly curved, convex damage function, which is commonly assumed in climate-economics models. They are also robust to different specifications of control variables and time range considered and indicate that the risk of extreme damages has increased more in temperate areas than in tropical ones. We use simulations to show that underreporting bias in the data does not weaken our inferences; in fact, it may make them overly conservative.”

Carbon-Neutral Helsinki 2035: https://www.hel.fi/static/liitteet/kaupunkiymparisto/julkaisut/esitteet/HNH2035_en_summary_14022019.pdf “The goal of Helsinki City Strategy 2017–2021 is to create a carbon-neutral Helsinki by 2035. When this goal is reached, operations taking place in Helsinki will no longer warm up the climate. The Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 action plan describes how Helsinki can get on the right track in terms of reducing emissions.”

ONS - Do summer heatwaves lead to an increase in deaths? https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/articles/dosummerheatwavesleadtoanincreaseindeaths/2019-10-07 “...we can see that after a rise in deaths, there is a period where the deaths tend to be lower than the five -year average. This means that at a daily level, extreme heat seems to have an impact on the number of deaths, but across the summer period as a whole the number of deaths is similar to previous years. This could be because the most vulnerable people, for example, those with pre-existing respiratory or cerebrovascular diseases are more susceptible to death during heatwaves.”

Extinction Rebellion protests – a wide range of media coverage;

And.. for different perspectives.

Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/09/revealed-20-firms-third-carbon-emissions “The analysis, by Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in the US, the world’s leading authority on big oil’s role in the escalating climate emergency, evaluates what the global corporations have extracted from the ground, and the subsequent emissions these fossil fuels are responsible for since 1965 – the point at which experts say the environmental impact of fossil fuels was known by both industry leaders and politicians.”

Revealed: How the Tobacco and Fossil Fuel Industries Fund Disinformation Campaigns Around the World: https://www.desmog.co.uk/2019/02/19/how-tobacco-and-fossil-fuel-companies-fund-disinformation-campaigns-around-world “MIT Associate Professor David Hsu analyzed organisations in DeSmog’s disinformation database and the Guardian’s tobacco database and found 35 thinktanks based in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand that promote both the tobacco and fossil fuel industries’ interests.”

Guest post: The problem with net-zero emissions targets: https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-the-problem-with-net-zero-emissions-targets “However, our newly published research – based on findings from expert interviews and stakeholder deliberations – suggests that combining emissions reductions and negative emissions into a single target of reaching “net-zero” may create problems. These could include delayed emissions cuts, but also insufficient focus on developing negative emissions technologies. Here, we explain how these problems arise and suggest one possible solution.”

Neutralizing misinformation through inoculation: Exposing misleading argumentation techniques reduces their influence: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0175799 “Misinformation can undermine a well-functioning democracy. For example, public misconceptions about climate change can lead to lowered acceptance of the reality of climate change and lowered support for mitigation policies. This study experimentally explored the impact of misinformation about climate change and tested several pre-emptive interventions designed to reduce the influence of misinformation.”

Solar energy generating noise barriers undergo tests in the Netherlands: https://newatlas.com/solar-energy-generating-noise-barriers-netherlands/38532/ “Highway barriers could deliver more than just noise protection if a test currently underway in the Netherlands proves successful. The colorful roadside barriers incorporate luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) which transfer light to conventional solar panels at the side in order to generate energy. The technology developed by Michael Debije at the Eindhoven University of Technology is being tested along the A2 highway in the Netherlands. Over the course of a year, the barriers will be tested for their effectiveness in power-generation as well as vandal-resistance and maintenance requirements.”

'This situation brings me to despair': Two reef scientists share their climate grief: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/10/this-situation-brings-me-to-despair-two-reef-scientists-share-their-climate-grief/ “…This situation brings me to despair. For the past 45 years I have researched and managed coral reef water quality in Australia and overseas. Now 72, I see that much of my work, and that of my colleagues, has not led to a bright future for coral reefs. In decades to come they will probably still contain some corals, but ecologically speaking they will not be growing, or even functioning.”

Active travel & transport

Report on key outcomes following the implementation of 20mph speed limits in the City of Edinburgh: http://www.scphrp.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/NIHR_project_final_report_PDF.pdf “1. Average speed was reduced by 1.34mph when considering 66 streets in which the 20mph limit was implemented and data was collected. 2. The number of vehicles with average speeds that were 20mph or less increased following the rollout. 3. Our results indicate a reduction of 38% in annual road traffic collision rates (overall) and by level of severity on 20mph and 30mph streets post speed limit introduction. (It should also be noted that collisions are falling across Scotland)”

Groundbreaking research identifies factors behind high bus use: http://www.urbantransportgroup.org/media-centre/press-releases/groundbreaking-research-identifies-factors-behind-high-bus-use “The research - by Transport for Quality of Life and published today by the Urban Transport Group – analysed a mass of data sets to identify six conditions which, when combined, can be used to define what the report calls the ‘Intrinsic Bus Potential’ (IBP) of a local authority area. IBP can be used to predict nearly 85% of the variation in bus use between local authorities and areas with a high IBP can be considered “good bus territory”.”

Road pricing urged as fuel duty declines: https://www.ciht.org.uk/news/road-pricing-urged-as-fuel-duty-declines/ “New road taxation systems that reflect distance driven and vary according to when and where journeys take place need to be brought in to replace dwindling income from fuel duty, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warns.”

Navigating Main Streets as Places - A People-First Transportation Toolkit: https://www.mainstreet.org/howwecanhelp/navigatingmainstreets?mc_cid=b1567e3e3b&mc_eid=ba4d196c58 USA based but some relevance to the UK “Navigating Main Streets as Places: A People-First Transportation Toolkit provides guid­ance to Main Street leaders, community advocates, local officials, transportation professionals, and everyone else in between on how to: 1) Evaluate streets and transportation through the lens of placemaking, 2) Balance the needs of mobility and other street activities, and 3) Build stronger relationships with other decision-makers and the community.”

Air quality & pollution

Defra announces £2m of clean air funding for councils: https://airqualitynews.com/2019/10/04/defra-announces-2m-of-clean-air-funding-for-councils/ “Local authorities have been invited to bid for the latest round of Air Quality Grant funding, with £2m available for projects to improve local air quality, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced today (October 4).”

Thousands of ships fitted with ‘cheat devices’ to divert poisonous pollution into sea: https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/shipping-pollution-sea-open-loop-scrubber-carbon-dioxide-environment-a9123181.html “More than $12bn (£9.7bn) has been spent on the devices, known as open-loop scrubbers, which extract sulphur from the exhaust fumes of ships that run on heavy fuel oil. This means the vessels meet standards demanded by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that kick in on 1 January. However, the sulphur emitted by the ships is simply re-routed from the exhaust and expelled into the water around the ships, which not only greatly increases the volume of pollutants being pumped into the sea, but also increases carbon dioxide emissions.”

Indonesia’s huge fires and toxic haze will cause health problems for years to come: https://theconversation.com/indonesias-huge-fires-and-toxic-haze-will-cause-health-problems-for-years-to-come-124556 “To see what mass exposure to this sort of pollution may mean in the longer term, we can look at the effects of massive wildfires in late 1997, which burned more than 5m hectares of land and sent a huge pollution cloud across South-East Asia. Before 2015, these were Indonesia’s biggest fires on record.”

How much are you polluting your office air just by existing? https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2019/Q4/how-much-are-you-polluting-your-office-air-just-by-existing.html “Just by breathing or wearing deodorant, you have more influence over your office space than you might think, a growing body of evidence shows. But could these basic acts of existence also be polluting the air in the office room where you work? To find out, a team of engineers at Purdue University has been conducting one of the largest studies of its kind in the office spaces of a building rigged with thousands of sensors. The goal is to identify all types of indoor air contaminants and recommend ways to control them through how a building is designed and operated.”

Ocean cleanup device successfully collects plastic for first time: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/03/ocean-cleanup-device-successfully-collects-plastic-for-first-time “A huge floating device designed by Dutch scientists to clean up an island of rubbish in the Pacific Ocean that is three times the size of France has successfully picked up plastic from the high seas for the first time.”

The women taking the plastic out of periods: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/02/the-women-taking-the-plastic-out-of-periods “Sanitary products are the fifth most common item found on Europe’s beaches, more widespread than single-use coffee cups, cutlery or straws. Some 200,000 tonnes of material is believed to end up in UK landfill every year. The water engineer Hazem Gouda has estimated that 700,000 panty liners, 2.5m tampons and 1.4m sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet every day in the UK.”

Food & food security

Launch of 'A menu of actions to shape urban food environments for improved nutrition': https://www.gainhealth.org/media/news/launch-menu-actions-shape-urban-food-environments-improved-nutrition “The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is pleased to announce the launch of 'A menu of actions to shape urban food environments for improved nutrition', a reference resource developed in cooperation with the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) and the RUAF Global Partnership. Available for free download from the GAIN website, the menu of actions contains over 70 examples of policies and programmes that city governments have implemented to improve food security and nutrition by making healthy and nutritious food more accessible, desirable, and affordable within the urban setting.”

The key to food security in Africa lies in the treasure trove of global crop biodiversity: http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2019/10/the-future-of-29-staple-foods-in-africa-depends-on-global-crop-diversity/ “Global plant diversity could be a lifeline for food security in sub-Saharan Africa, finds a new study. The analysis reveals that replacing some at-risk African food crops with more resilient crops from other parts of the world, as well as tapping the huge genetic diversity of crop wild relatives, could help shore up already beleaguered African agriculture against climate change.”

The recent controversy over a research study into the health risk from eating red and processed meat is an interesting case study into assessing risks related to nutrition, and the differences between individual and population risk (see David Speigelhalter’s view in the first link). Below are a range of articles covering the topic. A key difference with previous studies is the use of the GRADE methodology – so there is a link to a Cochrane page covering this approach.

It takes 21 litres of water to produce a small chocolate bar. How water-wise is your diet? https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/07/it-takes-21-litres-of-water-to-produce-a-small-chocolate-bar-how-water-wise-is-your-diet “There is a big focus on food that produces the most emissions, but the water-scarcity footprint also has a huge environmental impact”

Even meat lovers go veggie when plant-heavy meals abound: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02934-5 “Emma Garnett and her colleagues at the University of Cambridge, UK, collected data on more than 94,000 meals sold in 3 of the cafeterias at the university in 2017. When the proportion of meatless options doubled from one to two of four choices, overall sales remained about constant. But sales of meat-containing meals dropped, and sales of vegetarian meals, such as “wild mushroom, roasted butternut squash and sun blushed tomato risotto with parmesan”, rose 40–80%.”

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