Maintaining a healthy and sustainable natural and built environment is central to increasing quality of life and years of healthy life. Globally, 23 per cent of all deaths and 26 per cent of deaths among children under the age of five are due to preventable environmental factors.
When we talk about healthy environments, this includes not only things we can see every day like the buildings we live and work in, the food we eat and the water we drink – but also chemicals, radiation and microbes we cannot see but which can pose major risks to health and wellbeing.
We are already challenged by the early impacts of climate change, and this cannot be ignored as a major global threat to maintaining healthy environments. It is expected that it will adversely impact the lives and health of billions of people over the next decades. Climate change affects the most basic human health requirements - clean air, safe water, sufficient food and adequate shelter. It also poses new challenges to the control of infectious diseases.
The environment's effect on our health is complicated, but we know enough from decades of research to understand the need to take action in reducing environmental hazards through early detection, good planning and application of resource. We look forward to exploring what this means for Wales at the conference, and the steps we can take together towards a healthier environment and planet.