Climate and health

Our vision is a world where catastrophic climate breakdown is averted in a way that allows human health to flourish.

Testing soil health in Western Kenya

The world's climate is changing, and this is having a direct impact on humanity. Climate change is already affecting the environments in which we live and work, the health of many populations, and the wellbeing of our societies. 

We can no longer stop climate change from happening, but we must take urgent steps to prevent it from getting worse and protect the communities most at risk. 

We want to live in a healthier and more sustainable world – one in which local communities and national governments are fully equipped to tackle the combined global climate and health emergencies with the urgency they require. 

To do this, we are funding a transformation in the scale of research into the impacts of climate change on human health, and using the evidence that is generated to advocate for change. 

Wellcome at COP28

Learn about our plans for COP28, the events we’re supporting and the research we’re funding to protect lives from the devastating health impacts of climate change.

What do we want to achieve? 

The climate and health programme seeks to: 

  • significantly increase our understanding of the effects of climate change on human health  

  • define the interventions and policies that can respond to the climate crisis in a way that protects and improves human health. 

Climate change has many impacts on human health.  For example, higher temperatures and extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and flash flooding, directly cause illness and death.   

However, climate change is also driving shifts in the distribution of important infectious diseases such as malaria, as well as reducing the ability of farmers to grow crops, potentially leaving millions of people in conditions of food insecurity.

Our work 

Wellcome’s Climate and Health programme is backing evidence generation and science-based actions.

Our primary objective is to generate evidence and solutions to climate change that can and will be implemented.

We’re using the evidence to make the case to governments around the world to take physical and mental health into account in climate policy.

Explainer

Explained: how El Niño impacts health

7-minute read

El Niño conditions are returning. Global temperatures are expected to rise, leading to extreme climate and weather events with health consequences around the world. Find out about the health effects of El Niño and why preparedness is critical to mitigating its impact.

Author
Research story

How can we protect pregnant women from rising temperatures?

3-minute read

Dr Gloria Maimela, Director of Climate and Health at Wits RHI in South Africa, outlines the impacts of excessive heat on pregnant women – and shares some of the ways research can provide solutions.

Author

What funding do we provide? 

We’re looking to fund better and faster ways to collect and share information about the impact climate change has on human health around the world, at national, regional, and global levels. 

This evidence must be tailored to the needs of specific regions, countries, and communities, so that it is of practical use to decision makers at all levels of governance.  

We want to focus on: quantitative data on the effects of climate change on health; identifying the benefits to health of urgent climate change mitigation actions; establishing evidence on how to protect health through climate change adaption actions; and creating a global climate and health community with the skills and tools necessary to make a significant impact.

Additionally, we fund discovery research in a broad range of disciplines, including climate and health.

We also invite organisations to apply for contract opportunities that support our mission.

Explore the project summaries of research funded through our Climate and Health programme.

How is Wellcome funded? 

Wellcome is an independent charitable foundation. To find out where we get our grant funding from, visit our investments page

Why is climate and health a core focus for us? 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change is the single greatest threat to humanity and its effects on human health are already being felt. 

However, there are significant gaps in scientific understanding of the scale of the current and future effects of climate change on health; how to protect the health of populations as the climate changes (adaptation); and the potential benefits to health of actions that would reduce climate change (mitigation). 

To fill these gaps, the field of climate and health research needs significantly better resourcing; increased collaboration in research between experts in different scientific disciplines; and recognition of the urgent need to prioritise efforts to reduce future climate change as well as protecting the communities that will be most affected.  

But the production of this evidence alone, however important, is not sufficient. We will seek to ensure that the evidence is used by community, national, and global policy makers to deliver interventions and policies that respond to the urgent climate and health crisis. 

We hope these studies will provide evidence that key decision makers can use to make science-informed choices when creating policy related to climate change and human health. 

"We are supporting a transformation in the generation and use of evidence on the interaction between climate change and health in order to put health at the heart of climate change action."

Alan Dangour

Director of Climate and Health

Wellcome

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