Benefits of a good environment to health and wellbeing - November 2016

Published: November 30th 2016

The EPA and HSE are today jointly hosting an Environment & Health Conference in Dublin.  Entitled Our Environment, Our Health, OurWellbeing, the conference aims to promote a greater awareness of the impact of environmental quality on human health.

The environment and health are inextricably linked. The Government’s ‘Healthy Ireland’ strategy and the EPA’s Strategic Plan for 2016 – 2020: Our Environment Our Wellbeing recognise that a clean and well-protected environment is a key building block to a healthy Ireland.  For example, there is now a growing body of scientific evidence that links exposure to nature to benefits in coping with mental stress and fatigue. Getting out in nature can bring real benefits to mental well-being. 

 

Speaking at the conference, Laura Burke, Director General of the EPA said,

“Ireland’s environment is a fundamental and high-quality national asset that provides a strong foundation for healthy and contented lives. Our most basic needs are clean air, safe drinking water, safe shelter and healthy food. The quality of each one of these ‘needs’ is directly influenced by the quality of the environment.  It follows that preventing damage to the environment arising from human activities also helps to protect our health and wellbeing. Health and wellbeing stresses associated with urbanisation, air quality, water pollution, climate change, new materials and diffuse chemicals are matters we, together with the HSE, want to build the evidence base for, advocate for, and address.” 

Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe National Director of Health & Wellbeing, HSE said,

“Many of the key determinants of health and disease — as well as the solutions — lie outside the direct control of the health sector, in sectors concerned with environment, water and sanitation, agriculture, education, employment, urban and rural livelihoods, trade, international travel, energy and housing. Addressing the underlying determinants of health is key to ensuring sustainable development and sustained health improvements in the long term.  In bringing together environmental and healthcare professionals today we hope to foster collaboration to realise the benefits of a good environment for health and wellbeing’

 

The EPA’s recent State of Environment report highlighted Environment and Health and Wellbeing as one of seven key environmental actions for Ireland. Protecting the environment as a valuable asset benefits our health and the wider economy; equally, protecting our people from pollution safeguards human health and contributes to the nation’s health and wellbeing. This action is reflected in the Government’s vision for a Healthy Ireland which includes protecting the public from threats to health and wellbeing. 

 

In conclusion, Laura Burke emphasised the importance of providing online information for the public about health and environment,

“We in the EPA recognise our important role in providing online, up-to-date and accessible information on the environment to stakeholders. We are working hard to make environmental information interesting and relevant to the public, to stimulate increased engagement with the environment and to mobilise sustainable behaviours. We are also keen to encourage and support active participation by people and their communities in working to both protect and improve their local environment.” 

Last updated on: 30 / 11 / 2016