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Health in the era of sustainable development

Panel Member K. Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India and adjunct professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, delivered a lecture on Health in the Era of Sustainable Development on Sept 25th at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The event was part of the Milton J. Rosenau Lectures, celebrating the centennial of the landmark Rosenau paper on public health training published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in March 1915.

In his speech, K. Srinath Reddy encouraged researchers and policy makers to take steps to address modern days challenges such as air pollution, climate change, and other environmental issues related to crop and livestock production that, left unchanged, could one day severely impact the world’s food supply and human health.

“We live in a world where food systems are threatening the environment and environmental degradation from a variety of sources is threatening food systems. This will get worse if we don’t change,” said Reddy.

He also argued that scientists must figure out how to grow nutrient-rich crops that are able to withstand the higher temperatures anticipated as part of climate change and that can tolerate reduced water supplies.

“By 2050, as a result of climate change, crop and livestock production is expected to fall 2% per decade while demand for food is projected to grow 14% per decade due to population growth and other factors. By 2100, 40% of the world’s land surface will have altered climates. It’s not just global warming, it’s global harming,” Reddy said, referencing increased storms and flooding in Asia and other parts of the world that he said are linked to climate change.

One of the actions that he recommended, which he dubbed “climate-smart,” was to focus on promoting diverse, high-quality, healthy diets. He said new metrics are needed to measure diet quality, actual food intake, and measure food system efficiency and sustainability. He also called for new policies to reduce food waste. About one-third of food worldwide is wasted, he said.

Learn more about climate smart food systems for enhanced nutrition

Watch the video of the lecture

See presentation slides:

This aricle contains content originally published on Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 

Image: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health