Biodiversity – Health – Climate

Expert working group on ‘Determining the role of biodiversity for human health outcomes under climate change’, led by Newcastle University. Lead PI: Dr Marion Pfeifer, Assoc Prof Landscape Ecology and Management and Co-Director of Centre for Climate and Environmental Resilience

CoIs on the working group:

  1. Prof Georg Lietz, Prof of International Nutrition, Human Nutrition & Exercise Research Centre, Newcastle University
  2. Prof Bernard Corfe, Prof of Human Nutrition and Health, Human Nutrition & Exercise Research Centre, Newcastle University
  3. Dr Gillian Butler, Senior Lecturer Ecological Farming, SNES, Newcastle University
  4. Dr Hannah Davis, Lecturer in Ruminant Nutrition and Pasture Management, SNES, Newcastle University
  5. Dr Louise Mair, NUAcT Fellow: Physical & Natural Science, NuCore Climate and Environmental Resilience, SNES, Newcastle University
  6. Prof Phil McGowan, Prof of Conservation Science and Policy, SNES, Newcastle University
  7. Dr Luca Panzone, Senior Lecturer in Consumer Behaviour, SNES, Newcastle University
  8. Dr Sharon Velasquez , Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering, Newcastle University
  9. Dr Zarah Pattison, Senior Lecturer, Stirling University
  10. Prof Justin Sheffield, Prof of Hydrology and Remote Sensing, Southampton University

Funding: NU Climate and HEalth InTERNAL FUNDING IncLUDING Wellcome Trust ISSF – SMALL GRANT SCHEME (October 2022 – May 2023)

Synopsis: Understanding how climate change impacts on land management and food production which influence population health is an emerging global challenge. Here, we use the WHO definition of human health as ‘a state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’, extended to the concept of wellbeing that integrates across the five dimensions of (1) Basic material for a good life – hereafter referred to as material wellbeing, (2) Health, (3) Social relations, (4) Security, and (5) Freedom of choice and action. We will take stock of the evidence linking biodiversity to climate and health via direct and indirect pathways and identify evidence and knowledge gaps necessary for biodiversity management to (a) protect population health as climates change (management for adaptation recognising trade-offs between positive and negative biodiversity effects) and (b) mitigate the impact of climate change. This pilot project will identify the scale of these challenges, formulating a method and framework for future funding streams and research focus.

Timeline and outlook:

Month 1: Scoping workshop 1, Newcastle University campus. We will run a local expert consultation, inviting known experts to share thoughts on direct and indirect pathways linking biodiversity, health and climate. This will call on the highly interdisciplinary expertise at Newcastle and Northumbria Universities, looking across faculties (SAGE, HASS, FMS). Milestone 1: Workshop delivered. Deliverables: D1 keywords for a rapid scan of peer reviewed literature and existing case studies identified. D2 first draft of the framework.

Month 2: We will run an expert consultation (hybrid format), calling on UK and international experts from ODA countries including the team’s existing partners from Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique and Uganda and organisations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). We will actively engage with the Wellcome Trust Biodiversity team. We will use our cross-sectoral collaboration networks, covering multiple disciplines, including climate change, landscape ecology and management, systems modelling, technology and infrastructure, human health and nutrition, wellbeing and international policy making. Milestone 2: Workshop delivered. Deliverables: D3 final list of keywords for rapid scan. D4 adapted version of framework to be shared online for feedback from global science community.

Months 3 – 4: Implement a rapid literature scan using the agreed list of key words (D3), through RA time (e.g. NIHR observatory). This first scan will fill pathways linking biodiversity, human health and climate in the expert generated framework (D4) with evidence from the literature. This will be used to generate a set of hypotheses and expectations around the framework’s pathways. Milestone 3: Evidence and knowledge gaps identified. Deliverables: D5 Report describing the framework and associated testable hypotheses.

Outlook: The framework, hypotheses and knowledge gaps will subsequently form the foundation to generate a holistic, large scale project proposal, which draws on initiatives, case studies and other opportunities identified during the two workshops. It will define what experiments are needed to fill knowledge gaps and it will define the parameters for a full evidence synthesis following PRISMA standards.