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Climate crisis: A public health response

Friday 19 February 2016


Climate crisis: A public health response covers topics such as an update on the latest climate science, and the current state of our knowledge on health implications of climate change. Climate change is already having far-reaching implications for public health research, policy and practice. The requirements for societal transformation are also set to influence all aspects of public health. If you want to be right up to date with current scientific knowledge about climate change and health, as well as learning ways to respond to climate change in your practice by experiencing how others are leading, then this course is for you. Whether you are working in national or local government, a health sector organisation, or are a public health practitioner, this course will provide knowledge relevant to your role.

Topics covered

  • An update on the latest climate science, including a summary of the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports
  • An update on the current state of our knowledge about the health implications of climate change, including important research questions still needing to be addressed
  • Combining climate change science, ethics and advocacy
  • Potential health costs and co-benefits for health and equity of climate mitigation policies
  • What central government is and could be doing to address climate change – learning what can be done to address climate change from international experiences
  • What local government are doing to address climate change – planning and public engagement
  • How some communities are leading an adaptive and resilient response
  • Institutional level leadership to address climate change

Style of course

Seminar style teaching and interactive discussion.

Note: there is also an option to attend by internet-based video conference.

Who should attend?

This course is vital for anyone in a workplace, institution or government agency who is able to influence decision-making about the interlinked areas of energy use and health; climate impacts on health; and adaptation to the level of change we are already committed to. Decision-makers in the health sector, as well as areas such as housing, urban planning, food systems and transport – where energy and wellbeing intersect – will need to learn more about what is being done to address the impact of climate change on human health and equity. The course will also be relevant to anyone who would like to know how they can respond to climate change within their own organisation.

By the end of this course participants will:

  • Be up to date on the latest climate science and the likely impacts of climate change on health
  • Have a good grasp of the possible co-benefits and tensions for health and equity in climate mitigation policies
  • Be inpired by examples of responses at a local, regional and national level that are optimising the win-wins and minimising negative impacts
  • Leave with practical, thoughtful actions for their own organisational and decision-making roles

Draft timetable

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration

Welcome and introductions

Dr Alex MacMillan and Dr Rhys Jones
Co-convenors of Orataiao:NZ Climate & Health Council

9:05am Opening address - by video link Professor Nick Talley
President , Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Time Session Presenter(s)
Climate change and health
9:20am Climate science and health impacts Prof Alistair Woodward
9:55am Co-benfits of well-designed climate action Dr Alex Macmillan
10:25am Questions and discussion
10:30am Morning tea
Time Session Presenter(s)
Climate justice and human rights
11:00am Climate change and Māori wellbeing Dr Rhys Jones
11:25am Climate change and health in the Pacific A/Prof Jenny Bryant-Tokelau
11:50am Climate justice and human rights Dr Alison Blaiklock
12:15pm Questions and discussion
12:30pm Lunch
Time Session Presenter(s)
Transformative action – communities, organisations and governance
1:30pm Health in global action Dr Alex Macmillan
1:40pm Climate resilient communities Scott Willis
2:10pm What is the health sector doing? Dr Hayley Bennett
2:40pm Local government response Penny Hulse
3.10pm Afternoon break
Time Session Presenter(s)
Towards a healthy national response to climate change
3:30pm Political Panel. Chair tbc Health and climate spokespeople invited from all main political parties
4:30pm OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council Dr Alex Macmillan and Dr Rhys Jones, Co-convenors
4:45pm Group feedback and questions, Evaluations
5pm Close

Teaching staff

  • Alex Macmillan is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Health at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago. Her main interests are in translating evidence about sustainability and health into policy by bringing together policy, community and academic knowledge using modelling, particularly in the areas of climate change, transport and housing. Alex is also involved in community based epidemiological research to understand the impacts of changing urban environments. She is an honorary senior research associate at the UCL Institute for Environmental Design & Engineering (UCL-IEDE)and the Co-Convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.
  • Dr Rhys Jones is a Public Health Physician and is currently Senior Lecturer at Te Kupenga Hauora Maori (TKHM), University of Auckland. His research interests include environmental influences on Māori wellbeing including the complex links between climate change and Hauora Māori. He is the Co-Convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.
  • Professor Nick Talley is a Gastroenterologist and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Research) at the University of Newcastle. He is a Senior Staff Specialist at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle. Prof. Talley was the former Chair of the Department of Medicine at Mayo Clinic Florida and is currently Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic Rochester. Prof. Talley serves on a number of prominent boards, edits a major journal (MJA), and is the previous editor of the American Journal of Gastroenterology. He has published over 850 original and review articles and is listed among the world’s 400 most influential living biomedical researchers. He has a major interest in clinical skills education. Prof. Talley is a Fellow of the ACP, President of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians and Chair of the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges (CPMC).
  • Alistair Woodward has worked at the School of Population Health in the University of Auckland since 2004. Prior to this he was Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago Wellington. He is an epidemiologist, with broad interests in environmental health, and has been involved in climate change since the mid-1990s. He is presently one of the Convening Lead Authors for the health chapter of the IPCC’s 5th assessment report.
  • Associate Professor Jenny Bryant-Tokalau is a Geographer working in Te Tumu (School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies) Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand. Currently her interests are adaptation to and donor responses to climate change in the Pacific, and private sector investment, housing and land issues in Fiji. She has published widely on Pacific poverty and inequality, disasters, land and urbanisation. Jenny has previously worked for the University of the South Pacific, The University of Papua New Guinea, PNG, Monash University and the United Nations Development Programme.
  • Alison Blaiklock is a public health physician, Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Public Health, Otago University Wellington, and member of the OraTaiao Executive. Her interests include child rights, the right to health, health promotion, global health, climate change, and health equity. She is a former Executive Director of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand and 2012 PHA Public Health Champion.
  • Scott Willis. Scott transferred from academia to practical action in 2008, when he helped establish the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust and became its manager. An MA in social anthropology (and speciality in rural sociology, along with study in geography and philosophy) has helped him navigate the challenges of establishing and maintaining a small charitable NGO. Since late 2009 his principal work has been project management of the Blueskin wind development, while building a stronger operational team and ensuring delivery of BRCT objectives. Scott is passionate about community, collaborative effort and confronting the great challenge of climate change. Scott also serves on the board of the Otago Chamber of Commerce and is a Trustee on the Cosy Homes Charitable Trust.
  • Dr Hayley Bennett is a Public Health Physician and Coordinator for OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council. She was the lead author of a 2014 New Zealand Medical Journal paper on the health and equity impacts of climate change in Aotearoa-New Zealand. She coordinates the Sustainable Health Sector National Network – a group of health professionals across New Zealand who are working together to embed carbon reduction and environmental sustainability into District Health Boards and the wider health sector.
  • Penny Hulse is Deputy Mayor of Auckland.
  • Course cost and registration

    $300 early bird and $400 after 22 December 2015

    $100 flat fee for attending by web-based video conference. See below.

    Register now

      Climate crisis course available by video conference

    For those who are unable to travel to this course, we will also be offering access by internet-based video conference. Those who register for this video-conference version will be able to view it remotely, ie: from your work/home computer.

    It is important to note that you will see and hear the presenter(s) but if you want to enter any discussion this can only be done by typing in a message. The speaker/audience will not be able to see or hear you.

    You will also need to complete a simple system check in the week before the course to ensure your IT set-up allows you to see/hear satisfactorily. Details will be sent to you following registration.

    Registration for this video conference is offered at the reduced rate of $100. There will not be catering or a course folder provided for those attending in this way. To register please click the button below and on the registration page check the course box that says (video conference).

    Register now