Climate change and our high carbon lifestyles are already a severe threat to public health. Extreme weather events, heat waves, droughts and floods cause injuries, heat-stroke, food and water shortages, and the spread of food and water-borne diseases. Added to this, our carbon dependent lifestyles contribute to air, water and noise pollution, reduced physical exercise, and transport related accidents and injuries. Tackling both these causes and impacts is the public health challenge of the 21st Century.
In addressing these issues regional climate initiatives can play an important role. That is why, as part of World Health Day 2008: protecting health from climate change, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and the EUropean REGional Health Authorities (EUREGHA) launched a Good Practice Award for local and regional mitigation and adaptation projects that simultaneously promote human health and protect the climate.
The aim of the awards is to help propagate local climate change solutions, showcasing those establishments with health focused projects that have reduced their carbon footprint or are preparing themselves for the inevitable changes that climate change will bring.
The mitigation initiative award went to Disability Essex for the “Sustainable Centre for Disabilities” project. The Centre will provide almost all its own energy needs with the help of solar power and windmill technology and offer disabled people both a refuge and a place to learn how to adapt to climate change. Some former construction workers who have become disabled will have the opportunity to retrain for jobs in the eco-construction industry.
The winner of the adaption project was the Municipality of Tatabanya in Hungary, where a network of social, educational, and health care institutions are involved in implementing a Heat and UV alert plan. When the alert goes out, junior school children are kept inside during the heat of the day, given more water to drink, and reminded of the other precautions they need to take.
All competition entries were assessed by an independent panel of judges.
Awards were announced at the "Climate Change and the Challenges for Public Health: Engaging the Regions" Conference held at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels on the 24 June 2008.