Climate adaptation plans find meaningful actions to promote public health in 22 major cities


A review of the climate adaptation plans of 22 major cities reveals that while most include meaningful actions to promote public health, fewer cities have involved their public health agencies in these plans. Mary Sheehan of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS Climate the 3 of March.

With climate change, urban populations are more exposed to a number of risks, including heat, floods and drought. Many cities have chosen to develop climate adaptation plans, which emphasize public health. However, due to limited research, the extent to which even very health-focused city plans incorporate public health actions and the involvement of public health agencies is unclear.

To improve understanding, Sheehan and her colleagues assessed the climate adaptation plans of 22 major cities that were already known to focus on public health-promoting adaptations. They analyzed the extent to which these cities’ plans include actions in five categories deemed promising for promoting public health, such as extreme storm preparedness or early warning systems for infectious diseases.

The analysis revealed that 90 percent of the plans include actions in at least three of the five health-related categories. Of those plans, however, only 73% include the participation of a public health agency.

Cities in low- and middle-income countries were more likely to involve public health agencies in climate change adaptation plans than cities in high-income countries, although cities with significant health agency involvement public also included Barcelona, ​​Baltimore and San Francisco. Plans with greater involvement of public health agencies more frequently involved early heat warning, followed by extreme weather preparedness actions and hazard mapping.

The analysis also considered various approaches to climate change adaptation plans. For example, Baltimore’s plan is coordinated by its Office of Sustainability and emphasizes extreme weather preparedness, while London’s is coordinated by the Mayor’s office and places greater emphasis on environmental strategies. . The Barcelona plan demonstrates the integration of several municipal agencies in adaptations aimed at protecting public health.

The researchers say their findings support efforts to engage public health agencies more deeply in climate change adaptation and outline additional opportunities for major cities to integrate public health into adaptation plans.

The authors add, “Localities drive climate adaptation, and in this study we found that involving local public health in climate adaptation plans can make a difference. The presence of public health brings data, for example on health impacts and vulnerability, which can result in a greater focus on people – and better protection for those who need it most. areas such as extreme weather preparedness and vulnerability mapping, in partnership with emergency management, weather services and other agencies. »


Journal reference:

Sheehan, MC, et al. (2022) Climate-health urban governance: mapping the role of public health in the major adaptation plans of major global cities. PLOS Climate.


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