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Linkages between the health and the environment

Health and Environment Linkages Initiative (HELI)


The lack of priority of chemicals management in national development processes partly derives from the lack of coherent risk-reduction strategies amongst the broad spectrum of national institutions that regulate chemicals and waste. For such coherent strategies to emerge there is a need for improved inter-sectoral coordination on chemicals management.


In particular, health and environment-related decisions are often dealt with separately by different sectoral agencies and various stakeholders. Recent scientific developments have shown that increased cross-sectoral governance on health and environment improves decision making by demonstrating the relevance and cost-efficiency of a coordinated approach to policy making for sustainable development. Therefore, UNEP and WHO have developed, in a joint effort, the Health and Environment Linkages Initiatives (HELI) to encourage countries to address health and environment linkages as integral to economic development which laid the foundation of the UNEP WHO led Health and Environment Strategic Alliance.



UNEP-WHO Health and Environment Strategic Alliance (HESA)


At the First Inter-Ministerial Conference on Health and the Environment in August 2008, African ministers of health and environment adopted the Libreville Declaration committing their countries to establish a strategic alliance for health and environment as a basis for National Plans of Joint Action. The Health and Environment Strategic Alliance (HESA) helps coordinate action by the African health and environment sectors and engage in country-level development planning processes, to effectively utilize health and environment inter-linkages in the protection and promotion of public health and ecosystem integrity.


The Second Interministerial Conference on Health and Environment in Africa (IMCHE2) took place in Luanda, Angola from the 23 to the 26 November 2010. The Conference endorsed the conclusions and recommendations of the first regional synthesis report on the situation analyses and needs assessments carried out by 12 countries; adopted the Luanda Commitment in which governments agreed on the continent’s top ten priorities on health and environment linkages and pledged to implement a number of time-bound priority actions; institutionalized the health and environment strategic alliance; and, adopted a common position for Africa on climate change and health.  


For more information please see the HELI Webpage



Children and Environmental Health  (CEH)


The latest collaborative work area between UNEP Chemicals Branch and other Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), namely WHO, consisted of “Children and Environmental Health” (CEH). CEH has been a high priority of activities identified in the health and environment component under the Harmful Substances and Hazardous Waste subprogramme of the UNEP Medium Term strategy. Given the importance of including chemicals mainstreaming into the policy development of the CEH, the mainstreaming activities were briefly presented at the workshop held on the 24 March 2011. Highlights included a collaborative research effort to complement the economic assessment chapter on CEH in the Costs of Inaction Baseline Assessment Report. Such an assessment would, at a later stage, be incorporated into the Pillar II-Economic Implications Chapter of the Global Chemicals Outlook and eventually constitute a basis for the CEH policy and action.


For more information on CEH please click on the links in the section’s map to access specific sub-sections.