School of Population Health

New HEAL network to tackle health impacts of climate change

Image HEAL Network

Australians will be better protected against the health impacts of climate change, thanks to a new national research network led by The Australian National University (ANU) with partners from across Australia, including researchers from UNSW School of Population Health, and $10 million in Federal Government funding

The Healthy Environments And Lives (HEAL) network brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, sustainable development, environmental epidemiology, and data science and communication to address climate change and its impacts on health.

UNSW School of Population Health congratulates Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng, Professor Rebecca Ivers, and Conjoint Professor Bin Jalaludin from the School who are Chief Investigators on HEAL; Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU, Director of HEAL; and all other UNSW investigators and collaborators on HEAL.   

Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng from UNSW School of Population Health and Founding Co-Director of PowerLab will co-lead HEAL’s Urban Health and Built Environment Research Theme. 

Environmental justice is and will continue to be at the core of the Urban Health research theme, says Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng.

“We already know that seniors, younger people, and communities living with various forms of disadvantage are disproportionately harmed not only by environmental degradation, but also by the absence of environmental qualities that enrich our health, experiences and life chances in cities,” said Associate Professor Feng.

“Through HEAL’s Urban Health and Build Environment Theme we will ensure the best available data is used to identify and communicate recommendations for multisectoral strategies that will help us mitigate, adapt and build resilience to the impacts of climate crisis on health and healthcare,” she said. 

This work builds on Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng’s established track record of successfully translating research on nature and health into urban greening strategies in the cities of Sydney and Wollongong.

As part of HEAL, researchers, practitioners, communities and policymakers will work together on urban health, bushfires, air, soil and water pollution, food security, heatwaves and other extreme events, and biosecurity.

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU said: “We will join forces to address climate change and other environmental challenges, such as bushfires, air pollution, infectious diseases and heatwaves that have a massive burden on our health and ecosystems.” 

“This is a historic investment in our future. This coordinated group of experts and practitioners will substantially expand the boundaries of Australia’s environmental, climate change and health research community,” said Professor Vardoulakis.  

HEAL comprises 100 researchers set to create a national risk assessment of current and future health burdens driven by environmental change in Australia.

HEAL will be funded for five years through the National Health and Medical Research Council Special Initiative in Human Health and Environmental Change and operate across all Australian states and territories. 

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UNSW School of Population Health