Our health is directly influenced by our environment, but we're placing too many demands on the natural systems we rely on. To avoid further risks to our health, we need to act now to protect and sustain the planet.

Priority areas

We set priority areas where we want to see, lead and be accountable for change.

This priority area does not currently have any open funding calls.

Explore other priority areas

Learn more

We set priority areas where we want to see, lead and be accountable for change.

This priority area does not currently have any open funding calls.

Explore other priority areas

Three areas where we are taking action

We want to understand how food systems, increased urbanisation and climate change affect the environment and our health, and then use this knowledge to improve global health.

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're also investing £10.3 million in two research partnerships looking at how to create healthier food systems. 

We want to start conversations about the connections between our food, our health and our planet. We've already run one initiative, The Crunch. Read our reports on what we learned.

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're investing £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. 

Environmental change 

Environmental change poses many threats to human health, from causing flooding and droughts to impacting food supplies and migration.

We need to lessen the effects of climate change on health as well as adapt to its impact. To kick-start this, we've partnered with the Lancet to set up the Lancet Countdown, an international research collaboration that tracks global progress on climate change. 

We're also funding a number of projects to understand how environmental change is affecting the health of different populations around the world.

The challenge ahead

  • 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. 

What we want to achieve

Over the next five years, we'll establish a community of researchers who will take on the challenges that food systems, increasing urbanisation and climate change pose to our health. We'll stimulate research excellence and, through partnerships like the EAT Foundation, develop global collaborations to drive change.

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

By starting conversations through initiatives like The Crunch, we'll give everyone – from schoolchildren to farmers to business owners – the chance to find out more about cutting-edge research, to understand the need to change their behaviour, and to have their say on protecting the planet. 

By funding and supporting individuals and organisations, influencing policy and engaging the public, we'll develop solutions to some of the biggest environmental challenges, and sustain the health of our planet for future generations.

Our team

Clare Matterson, who is a member of the Future Global Council on Food Agriculture and Nutrition at the World Economic Forum, is a special adviser to Our Planet, Our Health.

Our advisory panel provides guidance on how we should develop this priority area.

Our funding committee helps us to make funding decisions. 

Contact us

If you have any questions or ideas about this priority area, contact the team: 

ourplanetourhealth@wellcome.ac.uk

People we've funded

Many of our grantholders carry out research in this area. See our directory:

Our Planet, Our Health: partnerships and projects we've funded