Integrating public health into climate change policy and planning: State of practice update

Mary Fox, Christopher Zuidema, Bridget Bauman, Thomas Burke, Mary Sheehan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Policy action in the coming decade will be crucial to achieving globally agreed upon goals to decarbonize the economy and build resilience to a warmer, more extreme climate. Public health has an essential role in climate planning and action: “Co-benefits” to health help underpin greenhouse gas reduction strategies, while safeguarding health—particularly of the most vulnerable—is a frontline local adaptation goal. Using the structure of the core functions and essential services (CFES), we reviewed the literature documenting the evolution of public health’s role in climate change action since the 2009 launch of the US CDC Climate and Health Program. We found that the public health response to climate change has been promising in the area of assessment (monitoring climate hazards, diagnosing health status, assessing vulnerability); mixed in the area of policy development (mobilizing partnerships, mitigation and adaptation activities); and relatively weak in assurance (communication, workforce development and evaluation). We suggest that the CFES model remains important, but is not aligned with three concepts—governance, implementation and adjustment—that have taken on increasing importance. Adding these concepts to the model can help ensure that public health fulfills its potential as a proactive partner fully integrated into climate policy planning and action in the coming decade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3232
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2 2019


  • Adaptation
  • Adaptive management
  • Climate change
  • Essential services of public health
  • Governance
  • Implementation
  • Mitigation
  • Public health practice 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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