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Topic Resources. Infrastructure, health and environmental impacts: a nexus?

Author: Stockholm Environment Institute
Year: 2016
Pages: 86 + 11 pp.
Document Type(s): PDF 3.0MB PDF 334KB 

This presentation considers 4 examples of environmental risk factors to human health: air pollution; agrochemicals; waste; and human health and wellbeing in an urban context. These all create significant ‘emissions/waste’ or ‘unhealthy environments’ that produce substantial risk factors linked to negative human health outcomes. In all cases infrastructure decisions can reduce these risks.The magnitude of the problems, connections to infrastructure, and methods and tools used to assess human health impacts are examined, and the findings for each example are outlined.

Key messages for human health:

  • Air pollution is one of the most important environment risk factors and the poorest communities are often the most affected. A similar number of premature deaths are linked to air pollution as unsafe water and sanitation.
  • Health burden is based on mortality but the social and economic costs of morbidity are mostly hidden (and potentially very large) and data and awareness raising in the first instance is required to move to the quantification of these impacts for cost benefit assessments .
  • Over 2/3 of developing country populations are without access to minimum waste management services. Remediation may be facilitated and enhanced by selectively targeting the most toxic elements of waste streams and making clear links to development planning and local economies.
  • Greater fraction of reported and estimated cases of agrochemical poisoning are mainly morbidity than mortal but with a long-term health impact directly affecting the farming population and indirectly affecting the urban population.

Key Messages for Infrastructure:

  • Improvements in infrastructure and services across urban environments cannot keep up with population increases.
  • Decadal time scales are needed to develop the required infrastructure to tackle problems that have cross sector and cross issue dimensions.
  • Systems approach crucial as air pollution, waste and urban design interconnected as well as links to resources coming from rural areas.
  • Linking strategies to national development plans and priorities such as SDGs and low carbon development are crucial, especially the cross departmental dimensions and the link to finance.
  • With limited resources need to optimise infrastructure development to minimize environmental degradation and improve public health outcomes.

A list of references is provided as a separate document. These resources were developed for presentation and discussion at a DFID cross cadre seminar in July 2016.

These Topic Resources have been produced by Evidence on Demand with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by DAI (which incorporates HTSPE Limited) and IMC Worldwide Limited.

Citation: Stockholm Environment Institute Topic Resources. Infrastructure, health and environmental impacts: a nexus? Evidence on Demand, UK (2016) 86 + 11 pp. [DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12774/eod_tg.october2016.SEI]
Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.12774/eod_tg.october2016.SEI
Donor: DFID
Category: Environment, Infrastructure, Topic Guides
Keywords: agrochemicals, air pollution, environmental impact, health impact, infrastructure, urban environment, wastes, waste management