Our planet is changing in ways that are unprecedented in human history, and which directly threaten human health. But these changes also bring opportunities to protect and improve health – if we can understand them and respond appropriately.

What we want to achieve

What is planetary health? Watch our animation to find out more.

Since 2015, we've supported a community of researchers who are taking on the challenges that food systems, increasing urbanisation and climate change pose to our health. We aim to stimulate research excellence and develop global collaborations to drive change.

If we're successful, the research we fund will provide strong evidence for action, which will lead policymakers, businesses and the public to make more informed decisions on things that affect the environment and health.

The areas we're focusing on

Climate change 

Acting on climate change requires both primary prevention (ie reducing its effects on health – also known as mitigation), and preparedness and response (ie adapting to its impact – also known as adaptation).

These responses must be designed and implemented to protect health as best we can, while also improving social equity. To do this, we'll need robust scientific evidence, and translation of that evidence in to policy and action.

We recently offered funding through the Climate Change and Health Awards for researchers who want to better understand the links between climate change and people’s health. Find out more about the grants we awarded.

We've also:

  • funded a number of other projects to understand how climate change is affecting the health of different populations around the world
  • partnered with the Lancet to set up the Lancet Countdown, an international research collaboration that tracks global progress on climate change. 

Global food systems

With the world's population growing, current ways of producing food are unsustainable. And what we eat is also leading to problems: over- and undernutrition are major causes of illness around the world.

Wellcome is a founding partner of the EAT Foundation, which brings together scientists, businesses and policy makers to transform food systems and feed the world's growing population. We've also invested £10.3 million in two research partnerships looking at how to create healthier food systems. 

Urban environments

As urban populations grow, so do rates of infectious disease, drug resistance, pollution and waste. But rapid urban growth also creates an opportunity: the chance to build a healthier living environment.

We've invested £17.8 million in research looking at how urban design and policy can improve health. Our research partnerships are investigating what makes cities healthy and environmentally sustainable, and how water management can be built into urban design. 

Why it's important

  • The world will need to produce 60 per cent more food by 2050 if current trends in diets and population growth continue.
  • Over half the world's population now lives in cities. This is expected to increase to two-thirds by 2050.
  • By 2050, it's predicted that climate change will cause 250,000 deaths a year. 

Funding opportunities

We’re currently reviewing the Our Planet, Our Health programme strategy. As a result, we won’t be launching a planetary health funding call.

If you would like to discuss your research, or want to work with us, please contact a member of the team.

Our team

See who's who in the Our Planet, Our Health team.

Our advisory committee provides guidance on this key area.

If you have any questions or comments, contact the team: ourplanetourhealth@wellcome.ac.uk.

Explore other key issues

A woman holding a rack of blood samples (Image Ben Gilbert/Wellcome CC-BY)

Africa and Asia: building strong research ecosystems

Developing the next generation of research leaders and the ecosystems they work in.

Scientist adds a sample to a micro-tube in a research laboratory (Image © Greg Dale/Getty Images)

Drug-resistant infections: transforming the global response

We want to transform the world's approach towards stemming the rise of infections caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

A child receiving oral polio drops (Image © Pacific Press/Getty Images)

Vaccines: a world equipped to combat infectious disease

Vaccines prevent disease, save countless lives and cut healthcare costs. We want to help develop new vaccines and work out how to use the existing ones in a better way.

News

plane with contrails

Opinion | 5 July 2019

Climate change: can we avoid flying? by Howie Frumkin

Work we've funded

Many of our grantholders carry out research in this area. See the Our Planet, Our Health grants we've awarded.

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