Vital Connections: Science, Society and Sustaining Health

Vital Connections: Science, Society and Sustaining Health concludes the Sustaining Health dialogue commissioned of Meteos by the Wellcome Trust.  The report explores how a growing human population is placing severe pressure on food, water, climate and biodiversity systems. It reviews how advances in health over the past seventy years are threatened by rising obesity, infectious diseases, respiratory diseases and immune dysfunctions – many of which are linked to environmental deterioration. The report explores how recent and extraordinary scientific and technological advances – and ‘Big Data’ in particular – must be used to prevent further decline in human health. It concludes that financial, political, social efforts need to be redirected to achieve this common goal, and identifies five steps to make this happen:

  • Corporations, NGOs, governments and academics must work across institutional, sector and disciplinary boundaries
  • Markets, politicians and individuals must think and act in longer timeframes
  • Powerful individuals and institutions must commit to new, collaborative leadership
  • Young and marginalized people must be included in the design of any solutions
  • Citizens must engage in public debate on how to address the gap between what it is possible to do and what it is ethical to do

The report is the result of a twelve-month dialogue, convened by Meteos, which brought together experts from academia, NGOs, social enterprise, business and government to analyse the trends impacting on human health and the environment, and potential solutions.  Their work was complimented by a multi-stakeholder consultation held in New York to coincide with the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit and Climate Week in September 2014. This report is published as a contribution to wider debates about how to successfully address, health, nutritional and environmental challenges. Written in the year of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP), the report is a timely contribution to wider efforts to address the Sustaining Health agenda.