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INHERIT Publishes 3 Policy Briefs on Integrated Governance, Health Equity, and Behaviour Change

How can policymakers promote interventions that foster a “triple-win” — a benefit for environmental sustainability, health and health equity? Our INHERIT project’s new policy briefs suggest ways forward for integrated governance, behaviour change, and health equity, and cover the areas of living, moving, and consuming. They also include recommendations for actions and set out concrete examples of what can and has been achieved in different contexts across Europe, highlighting possibilities for scaling-up. The briefs have been developed by the Horizon 2020 INHERIT research project (2016-2019).

The problems are clear: chronic diseases are increasing, the environment and the climate are under threat, and inequalities are on the rise, with disadvantaged populations likely to suffer most from ill-health and the negative effects of climate change.

There are solutions: Integrated governance can help ensure that interconnected environmental, health, and equity issues are addressed cohesively. Participatory approaches allow citizens to engage with policymaking that affects their lives. Enabling and encouraging people to change behaviours is a crucial but often overlooked aspect of transitioning towards greater sustainability. Making sure that policy actions do not contribute to widening inequalities is not only just, it is also good for society as a whole. Policymakers at European, national, regional, and local levels are crucial, and can take concrete actions to put these solutions into place.

The policy briefs provide guidance on three critical areas at the heart of sustainable change:

  • Integrated governance is essential to harness synergies and can be fostered by setting strategic common goals across sectors, encouraging joint programming and financing, and creating institutional cultures that value collaboration over individual success.

Example: A range of local government sectors and actors are coming together in the STOEMP initiative, part of the award-winning city-wide Gent en Garde programme (Belgium), to determine how healthy and sustainable food can be made available to everyone.

  • Understanding and considering the impact of behaviour from the outset of policy-making can help policymakers to provide everybody with the capability, opportunity and motivation to make sustainable change.

Example: Measures to ensure that children connect with and learn through nature and enjoy healthy, sustainably produced food in school-settings can help them develop better habits throughout their lives, as is being done through the GemüseAckerdemie (Vegetable Academy) in schools across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

  • Health equity can be promoted and mainstreamed in practice by making it easier for everybody to engage in active travel, ensuring access to engaging green spaces that respond to residents’ needs, and subsidsing the cost of fruits and vegetables.

Example: The municipality of Malvik (Norway), converted a decomissioned railway into a path through an inclusive participatory process, and the path is now being increasingly used, particularly by people facing socioeconomic disadvantages.

Click here to view the policy briefs.

In December, INHERIT will complement the policy briefs with a broader policy toolkit, which will build on and further develop these elements, as well as areas for further work including collaborating with the private sector, meaningful public engagement, and education and training for the triple-win.

The results of the project will be discussed at the high-level conference ‘A Future for all to INHERIT: Taking Action Now’, taking place in Brussels on 10 December 2019. During this conference, EU Health Ministers, Members of the European Parliament, local policymakers, and leading researchers and economists, will debate what can be done now to ensure a more socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable future, against the backdrop of the Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information, please contact Rosa Strube.