Mitigation/adaptation and health: health policymaking in the global response to climate change and implications for other upstream determinants

J Law Med Ethics. Fall 2010;38(3):629-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2010.00516.x.


The time is ripe for innovation in global health governance if we are to achieve global health and development objectives in the face of formidable challenges. Integration of global health concerns into the law and governance of other, related disciplines should be given high priority. This article explores opportunities for health policymaking in the global response to climate change. Climate change and environmental degradation will affect weather disasters, food and water security, infectious disease patterns, and air pollution. Although scientific research has pointed to the interdependence of the global environment and human health, policymakers have been slow to integrate their approaches to environmental and health concerns. A robust response to climate change will require improved integration on two fronts: health concerns must be given higher priority in the response to climate change and threats associated with climate change and environmental degradation must be more adequately addressed by global health law and governance. The mitigation/adaptation response paradigm developing within and beyond the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change provides a useful framework for thinking about global health law and governance with respect to climate change, environmental degradation, and possibly other upstream determinants of health as well.

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Global Health*
  • Health Planning / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Planning / organization & administration*
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • United Nations