Presented on the topic of "Creating Communities of Practice for Climate and Health" at the 2nd Conference of the Philippine Academic Society for Climate and Disaster Resilience last October 2023 at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. The work focusses on our Philippine findings at Curiosity about the challenges and possibilities of forming cross-disciplinary collaborations for climate and health. This for a multi-country study on the Asia-Pacific Region in partnership with Quicksand (India) and with funding from the Wellcome Trust in the UK.
Figure 1. Some snapshots of the presentation and our panel at the conference
Great to be reunited with long-time collaborator and global climate and health champion, Dr Renzo Guinto of the St Lukes College of Medicine, who convened our panel. We had an engaging Q&A with the audience, which highlighted the importance of lived experience and local knowledge to advancing health adaptation.
You can download a copy of the multi-country report here:
And this is our long abstract as published in the conference proceedings:
Creating communities of practice for climate and health: Understanding drivers, barriers, and possibilities for transdisciplinary and multisectoral collaboration
Pamela Cajilig (Curiosity Design Research)
Key words: climate adaptation, climate and health, climate change, communities of practice, multisectoral collaboration, transdisciplinary collaboration
The World Health Organization has declared climate change the biggest health threat to humanity. Climate change is projected to cause a drastic increase in annual deaths from malnutrition, as well as weather-related and zoonotic diseases. In turn, this places great burdens on health infrastructure around the world and especially in developing countries who have contributed the least to the crisis. Climate change restrains access to universal health care in the latter by compounding the toll of diseases and exacerbating health inequalities. Simultaneously, climate change undermines advances in sustaining social determinants of good health, suc
h as stable livelihoods and equitable access to social services, including health services.
Effective climate action requires the production and dissemination of knowledge about how climate risks exacerbate heal
th risks as well as climate resilient health technologies, strategies, and policies. However, disciplinary and sectoral silos have prevented collaborative engagement for climate action within the climate and health nexus. Such schisms remain in the Philippines, number one in the 2022 World Risk Index due to high levels of disaster risk exposure and lack of resilience and adaptation mechanisms, despite several national policies recognizing the implications of climate change on public health. The country’s high risk exposure to climate disasters
and limited social protections underscore the urgency of understanding and addressing the health consequences of climate change. This study builds upon the limited research on climate and health collaborations in the Philippines by exploring the drivers, barriers, and possibilities for creating transdisciplinary and multisectoral communities of practice.
This multi-method study focuses on the Philippines but is part of a larger study of transdisciplinary collaboration for climate and health in the Asia-Pacific region funded by the Wellcome Trust. The research ap
proaches used include two online workshops, semi-structured interviews with key informants who have a broad view of the interconnection of climate and health issues, and a quantitative survey among participants representing fields as diverse as medical innovation, planetary health, anthropology, and agriculture and who are based in (or work across) th
e public, civic, and private sectors.
The findings highlight tensions within disciplines, sectors, and institutions as a barrier to external collaboration. They also stress the lack of policies that encourage, fund, and incentivize climate and health collaboration. Moreover, the results emphasize the need for international donors to recognize and prioritize local skills, knowledge, and experiences in determining project agenda and the importance of locally determined research priorities that recognize how climate and health issues entangle on the ground. Meanwhile, those working in the public and civic sectors call for the prioritization of local knowledge, voices, and experiences demands the participation of groups whose health is most affected by climate change, such as Indigenous communitie
s, women, farmers, and fisherfolk. The results also highlight the need for flexible funding schemes and capacity building for grant applications among junior researchers and grassroots communities. Furthermore, research participants from the academic sector underscore the importance of openness to epistemic diversity and research approaches beyond the STEM fields. Finally, the study surfaces entry points for collaboration that are adjacent to
climate and health as well as preferences for certain configurations of communities of practice based on sectoral dispositions.
The research shows that without structural, social, and cultural interventions in the areas of financing, institutionalization, research, capacity building, and local knowledge and participation, efforts to create effective interdisciplinary and multisectoral communities of practice for climate and health will remain sporadic and short-lived.