How Philanthropy Is Recognizing the Health Threats of Climate Change
Philanthropy is defined as “the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people.” So as it becomes increasingly evident that climate change is having an impact on public health, it makes sense that philanthropic foundations are beginning to make grants linking health and climate. As Karla Fortunato, Director of the Health & Environmental Funders Network (HEFN) and a Climate for Health leader, points out in this blog, these grants aren’t just aimed at environmental action. Foundations are also addressing issues such as climate preparedness, disease prevention, policy analysis, and transitioning to clean energy.
HEFN and ecoAmerica recently collaborated on a report, Achieving a Climate for Health: Philanthropy to Promote Health and Justice through the Challenges of Climate Change, which outlines the opportunities present at the intersection of climate change and health. Read on for inspiring examples of engagements already underway, from an initiative aimed at giving low-income urban groups a larger voice in climate policy, to a study exploring the impacts of air pollution on child development.
Karla Fortunato, Contributor to the Health Affairs Blog
From 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to Vatican City, global leaders are acknowledging the threat of climate change to people around the world.
This recognition has come to philanthropy as well. Foundations are finding compelling motives and innovative areas for making grants linking climate and health. Grantmakers focused on communities, public health, and health disparities are addressing climate change to achieve critical goals like population protection, disease prevention, and community transformation.
While this philanthropic activity is nascent, the opportunities to have an impact are substantial. In the words of Maria Neira of the World Health Organization (WHO), “Since 2007 I have described climate change as the defining issue for public health in this century. Today, I would add that it is one of the greatest opportunities we face to improve human health.”
Grant making at the intersections of climate and health extends beyond environmental action into areas like emergency preparedness, the U.S. public health infrastructure, and transitions to healthier forms of energy, transportation, land use, and community economic development.
Image credit: AP