News

WHO Releases Briefing Series on Measuring Health Gains from Sustainable Development

WHOJune 2012: The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a set of thematic briefings on measuring health benefits of sustainable development in relation to the key themes discussed at the UN Conference for Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), namely: sustainable cities; agriculture, food and nutrition security; jobs; water; energy; and disaster risk management.

The summary of key messages stresses the importance of measuring health benefits as a way to assess progress on the three pillars of sustainable development since many achievements directly benefit public heath. Health indicators are important to identify success stories and verify whether the benefits of greener economies are equitably distributed.

Each issue brief explains the linkages with public health and how indicators were selected, followed by a list of health issues to be monitored with suggested indicators and data sources. The briefs also discuss the feasibility of data reporting and cross-cutting issues for further consideration.

On sustainable cities, core areas include: slum housing improvements; urban air quality; transport; urban violence; and access to urban services. On agriculture, food and nutrition security, core areas include: health outcomes, such as prevalence of anaemia or obesity; food access and dietary quality; and food market and trade policies.

The brief on jobs proposes indicators on workers health, compliance with occupational safety and health standards and ratification and implementation of international labor conventions. On water, indicators should include access to safe drinking water and adequate, climate resilient water and sanitation systems.

Indicators on energy should monitor reductions in air pollution-related diseases, and efficient energy generation and distribution, including renewable energies. Monitoring of progress in disaster risk management should include human health aspects of disasters, health system resilience and capacity for emergency risk management and health facilities built to withstand hazards. [Publication: Measuring Health Gains from Sustainable Development (key messages)] [WHO Thematic Briefings on Key Rio+20 Themes]