London, 9 November 2022 – International sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future, Bupa, Haleon, Reckitt and Walgreens Boots Alliance have today launched updated guidance for the private sector on how to urgently tackle mounting threats to human health from the climate crisis.

Titled Driving Co-benefits for Climate and Health - 2022 Update: How the private sector can accelerate progress, the new report updates guidance originally published in November 2021 and continues to highlight that planetary health and human health are intrinsically linked. A healthy planet is a key foundation for a healthy population, and human health cannot be advanced without fresh water, clean air and a stable climate. The report aims to enable businesses to leverage their net zero and health strategies in a way that simultaneously accelerates change across these interlinked challenges.

Developed with input from businesses, NGOs, scientists, philanthropists and government advisors from across Europe, Africa and the US, and on the back of extensive research distilling the findings of over 5,000 multi-disciplinary papers, the report recommends that:

  • All businesses can: reduce their emissions and contribute towards cleaner air; invest in clean, green buildings (new or retrofit) that are safe and sustainable; educate employees and customers about action they can take themselves; consider environmental and health outcomes as they design their products; leverage their influence to advocate for a more socially just and ecologically regenerative economy; collaborate with their suppliers on carbon reduction, protecting biodiversity and developing climate adaptation strategies; engage academia and others to develop new business models capable of delivering not only profit, but social and environmental benefits; and educate their stakeholders on integrated risks from the climate and health crises.
  • Investors and philanthropists can: recognise that taking a proactive approach to tackling climate-induced health impacts would realise significant economic and health co-benefits, while also constituting smarter risk management; educate themselves on the risks of inaction; and identify where health can piggyback on, and strengthen, existing market initiatives - such as ESG products.
  • Policy makers and the public sector can shift how public money (including subsidies and procurement) is spent - moving beyond ‘do no harm’ towards net positive goals. They should also integrate their approaches to tackling health, climate and nature challenges to drive greater return on investment.

Beyond its focus on the role of the finance, political, investment and philanthropic community, the report also provides a suite of detailed recommendations for the food, technology, built environment and healthcare sectors, recognising that these sectors have the potential for a disproportionately positive impact.

Dr Sally Uren, Chief Executive, Forum for the Future, said: “Put simply, people cannot thrive on a dying planet. Across the globe, we’re seeing heatwaves of unprecedented severity, droughts destroying crops and food supplies, escalating air pollution, devastating wildfires and floods. Fourteen months ago, we put the spotlight on the urgent need for the private sector to step up with integrated net zero strategies capable of delivering co-benefits for climate and health. Since then, some progress has been made - but not enough. This latest guidance will enable key actors to act faster and go further.”

The impacts of climate change on health can be both acute and chronic. Severe floods, heat stress or drought can have immediate and devastating impacts on health. Gradual rises in temperature can have longer term impacts, exacerbating both non-communicable and infectious diseases. [1]

“Tackling climate and health together also offers an opportunity to address structural inequalities,” Dr. Uren continued.  “Those communities most at risk from climate impacts are often those with less access to healthcare.  Designing solutions for climate adaptation that also deliver health benefits could contribute to better equity for all.”

Una Kent, VP, ESG and DEI - International, Walgreens Boots Alliance, said: “At WBA, we are committed to driving systemic change to tackle the global climate change health crisis, and recognize that those most impacted by it often have the fewest resources to battle it. That’s why Health Equity is central to WBA’s purpose to inspire more joyful lives through better health. We know that partnership is key and through our long-term relationships with the UN Foundation, our Get a Shot. Give a Shot campaign has already delivered over 80M polio and measles vaccines for children in low resource developing nations. Together with Vitamin Angels we have delivered 350M+ vital vitamins to vulnerable mothers and children, and through the passion and commitment of our global teams we have administered over 62M COVID-19 vaccinations. Through strategic partnership and collaboration we are committed to making healthcare more equitable, and hope this new guidance will inspire others to accelerate even more action together.”

Healthcare companies have a key role to play in informing other companies about the impact of climate change on human health, and in influencing them to step up and take action.

Glyn Richards, Group Director of Sustainability for Bupa Group, said: “For 75 years, Bupa has been taking care of people’s health, but it is becoming increasingly clear that we can’t do this without taking care of the health of our planet too. Healthcare companies have an important role to play in addressing the climate crisis. We not only have a responsibility to reduce our own impact on the environment, but also to play a leadership role and influence others to make changes too. We know we have a lot of work to do, and we can’t do this alone, which is why we’re collaborating with partners to accelerate action. We hope this report will encourage and support others to do the same.”


Meanwhile, many of the drivers of climate change are also health issues in their own right. Air pollution from fossil-fuel power plants, transport and industry debilitates millions each year, while forest destruction damages water supplies and increases the risk of infectious diseases.

Sarah McDonald, VP, Sustainability, Haleon, said: “The emissions driving climate change are also causing air pollution, and globally, the effects on people’s health are often felt by society's most vulnerable and marginalised. At Haleon we see these links clearly and have an important role to play in raising awareness of this intersection and making it possible for people to adopt more sustainable behaviours. I hope this report will help other organisations to join up and increase the urgency of actions in order to deliver co-benefits for people’s everyday health and the health of the planet. “

“By adopting the recommendations put forward in this report,” said Dr Uren, “businesses, governments, philanthropists and more can ensure that every action they take towards net zero drives maximum impact. For too long, there’s been a serious lack of joined-up approaches, but we still have time to change that and deliver for people, the planet and our economy.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 13 million people die each year from environmentally related health risks [2]. Around 99% of the world’s population breathe polluted air [3]; in 2020 1 in 4 people lacked access to safely managed drinking water in their homes [4], and more than 3.1 billion did not have access to enough safe and nutritious food [5].

David Croft, Global Head of Sustainability, Reckitt, said: “The link between the planet’s health and human health can no longer be ignored. Businesses can help by investing in research and innovation to try to ensure we stay one step ahead of growing health threats, from water scarcity to insect-borne diseases, so that brands and products continue to help people protect themselves. The only way to solve these interconnected crises is by working together to drive solutions at scale.”


For more information, interviews or comments, please email Amy Langridge, Associate Director - Communications and Marketing at Forum for the Future, [email protected].

Access the latest 2022 Driving Co-benefits for Climate and Health guidance or find out more about the Climate and Health Coalition.



[1] Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2021, Climate Effects on Health

[2] WHO, 2016, ‘An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments’

[3] WHO, Billions of people still breathe unhealthy air: new WHO data.

[4] UNICEF and WHO, Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020 - Five years into the SDGs.

[5] Action Against Hunger, World Hunger Facts,

About Forum for the Future

Forum for the Future is a leading international sustainability non-profit. For more than 25 years we’ve been working in partnership with business, governments and civil society to accelerate the shift towards a just and regenerative future in which both people and the planet thrive.

Forum is focused on enabling deep transformation in three game-changing areas: how we think about, produce, consume and value both food and energy, and the role of business in society and the economy. We’re working with ambitious and diverse change-makers to shift how they feel, think, act and collaborate to drive systemic change for sustainability.  Find out more at or by following @Forum4theFuture on Twitter.

About the 2022 report

The findings and guidance in this report arose from a two-fold process:

  1. Convening groups from a diverse section of over 40 private sector organisations, along with others working on the frontlines of climate and health;
  2. A major research exercise, distilling the findings of over 5,000 multi-disciplinary papers covering the climate and health interface, and uncovering and assessing case studies across all key sectors.