With the link between climate change and human health becoming increasingly clear, there is a unique opportunity for the private sector to tackle this complex dual challenge with integrated approaches. Here, Forum's Chief Executive Dr Sally Uren sets the context and explores upcoming guidance from the Climate and Health Coalition, which - with a focus on food, technology, healthcare and the built environment - is set to provide specific recommendations for action and enable the private sector to step up. 

Over the last 12 months, the case for urgent action on the climate-health crisis has been thrown into sharp focus. Across the globe, we’ve seen heatwaves of unprecedented severity, air pollution so severe that governments have imposed stay at home orders, devastating floods in India and Pakistan, and another summer of destructive wildfires. 

All are associated with climate change and have caused disruption, illnesses and deaths on an alarming scale. These are not just humanitarian tragedies – they represent staggering economic losses as well. The World Meteorological Organization estimated in a 2021 report that climate-related disasters in the past 50 years caused US$202 million in losses daily.

For health professionals, the consequences are all too obvious. In October 2022, The Lancet, the highly respected medical journal, published its latest Countdown, concluding that “the worsening impacts [of climate change] are increasingly affecting the very foundations of human health and wellbeing”.

The message is clear: without healthy planetary systems, such as ample fresh water, clean air, and reliable weather, we cannot have healthy humans. 

Forum for the Future’s 2021 report Driving Co-Benefits for Climate and Health highlighted the mounting threats to human health from the climate crisis, and the opportunities to accelerate progress in tackling both by treating them together. In early 2022, Bupa, Haleon, Reckitt, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Forum for the Future founded the Climate and Health Coalition to mobilise and equip the private sector to accelerate the integrated transformation of our health and climate systems.


The private sector’s role in addressing the dual crises of climate and health


Our success in tackling the climate-health crisis depends on action from both the private and public sector, as well as wider civil society. Right now, there is a huge potential for the private sector to play a leading role. It has the resources, leverage and creativity to drive real change at scale and speed.

Tackling climate and health together also brings the prospect of new business opportunities in a rapidly changing environment. Forum’s 2021 report made a series of recommendations for business leaders. While many businesses have responded to the recommendations, there is an opportunity for many more to step up.

Over the last year, we have convened more than 40 private sector organisations and a diverse range of stakeholders from the frontlines of climate and health. We have undertaken a major research exercise, distilling the findings of over 5,000 multi-disciplinary papers and assessing case studies across all key sectors. Our findings and recommendations will be shared in updated guidance on 9 November 2022 at COP27. 

From reducing emissions and investing in clean, green buildings to collaborating with suppliers and leveraging your influence to engage others. From recognising that taking an integrating approach represents smarter risk management. From shifting how public money is spent to integrating social and environmental approaches. The suite of detailed recommendations list out tangible actions businesses, investors, philanthropists, policy makers and the public sector can take. They also hone in on food, technology, the built environment and healthcare sectors. 

There are opportunities to be seized – and no time to waste. Explore 'Driving Co-Benefits For Climate And Health - 2022 Update'

The Climate and Health Coalition is working with a range of key actors to bring our guidance recommendations to life. Please get in touch with Ksenia Benifand if you’re interested in making this happen.