Wellbeing Statement doesn’t address this century’s biggest health burden: climate change

Friday 21 July 2023

The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) welcomes today’s release of Australia’s first Measuring What Matters Statement, but says much more needs to be done to tackle climate change, “the biggest health challenge of the 21st century” according to the World Health Organization.

“It is clear that the prosperity of a nation goes far beyond traditional economic measures like GDP. We are pleased to see the Commonwealth taking a whole-of-government, wellbeing approach to how it measures success of policy for current and future generations” said Roland Sapsford, CAHA CEO.

However, Mr Sapsford said the Statement is not doing enough to address the impacts of climate change on health. 

“Nowhere does the Statement recognise climate change as the biggest health burden of the 21st century. Health underpins every aspect of wellbeing, from the ability to work and contribute to community and family life, to individual and cultural wellbeing.

“By omitting links to the National Health and Climate Strategy, and other climate-health indicators, the Commonwealth have missed an opportunity to signal the vital connection between climate change and the health of Australians.”

Mr Sapsford said that CAHA supports the inclusion of the National Climate Risk Assessment and a National Adaptation Plan as important aspects of resilience planning. However other aspects of global environmental change also need to be prioritised in the next iteration of the Statement.

“Addressing biodiversity loss and environmental pollution is crucial to support the health and wellbeing of people in Australia. 

“We urge the Commonwealth to undertake a national conversation that enables all Australians to be a part of the evolution of the Statement. This should include strong engagement with our First Nations Elders and communities, whose cultural wisdom and knowledge speaks to the heart of wellbeing.”

CAHA looks forward to working with the Treasurer and the newly established Australian Centre for Evaluation to embed climate and health into government policy and future iterations of the Statement.

For further comment, please contact Sally Spalding on 0401 184 986 or [email protected]