Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium

 Higher Education connecting, collaborating and taking action


Sustainability and Public Health: Partners By Nature RECAP

26 Mar 2020 12:47 PM | Abbey Castor

The Sustainable Development Goals are about more than just climate change. In the Public Health and Sustainability Webinar members from Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and public health officials from all across the state of Pennsylvania came together to discuss the synergy between the goals and public health.

The SDG’s are a group of attainable goals, set by nations all around the world, to achieve by the year 2030. The idea is to advance global progress and fix climate change. There are 17 goals that address global issues surrounding clean water and sanitation for all, the ending of extreme poverty, the education of women, and things like clean energy, good health, peace and justice. 

Goal 17 for the SDG’s is Partnership for the Goals, which is exactly why this collaboration is crucial to creating change. The need for a dialogue has never been more urgent. Pennsylvania is ranked 30th out of all 50 states in the U.S for achieving the goals. 

This webinar provided an excellent overview of the relationship between human activity and the natural world, specifically honing in on the public health aspect. When comparing the social and economic factors of society with the earth’s system trends there are direct correlations between what people are doing and the impacts on the earth. As this trend line continues to go up, we see failures within the public health sector for humanity. Public health is all about the education and empowerment of communities to cure and prevent disease. 

The interconnected web in the public health sector ranges from biologists, to elected officials, and lab testing centers, mental health facilities, hospitals, schools, etc… the goal is to have healthy people. But as we see things like increased warm climates, with less winter seasons, we also see things like lyme disease increasing. Without a winter, tick populations can survive longer and grow and infect more people.  When talking about ground level ozones and allergens, people that are dealing with building community parks can work to fight climate change, and promote cleaner air for people to breathe without even realizing it. Planting trees and building those parks can mitigate the urban heat island effect up to 9 degrees which is a significant impact for communities. The intersection between public health and the sustainable development goals addresses the increased possibility of infectious diseases, but enables programs like some in Philadelphia that look at the correlation between the health of the environment and maternal mortality rates. 

The goal is to attain healthy and thriving human life and eliminate the disparity between certain groups of people. The goal is to promote social, physical, and economic environments that get communities to reach their full potential and well-being. Pennsylvania is a diverse place and coming together for this webinar is the start in creating a healthier state to be.

If you would like to view a recording of the webinar view this link here

A very big thank you to all of our speakers!!!

Josh Hooper Director of PERC

Peter Boger Assistant Director for Community Engagement, Penn State Sustainability Institute

Peter Buck President-elect of PERC and academic programs manager, Penn State Sustainability Institute

Lisa Davis Director of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health

Rebecca Kishbaugh Director of Division Cancer Prevention and Control for the Pennsylvania Department of Health

Ruth McDermott-Levy Director for Center for Global and Public Health at Villanova University 

PERC - Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium

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