Not what the doctor ordered: Prioritizing transdisciplinary science on climate, environment and health in the Latin American and Caribbean region

Males, Jamie and Watson, Ana and Ganapati, Shweta and Grossman, Alice and Trtanj, Juli and Arbour, Nicole and Torres, Irene and Stewart-Ibarra, Anna M. (2022) Not what the doctor ordered: Prioritizing transdisciplinary science on climate, environment and health in the Latin American and Caribbean region. PLOS Climate, 1 (4). e0000025. ISSN 2767-3200

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The Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region is highly diverse and unequal [1]. It is also host to extreme weather events and changing climate patterns increasingly impacting infrastructure, livelihoods, food security, and peoples’ health and wellbeing. Understanding the interactions between climate, environment and health to develop evidenced-based solutions is therefore crucial for improving health outcomes. However, and despite growing concerns [2], critical gaps in data and scientific capacities remain, impeding effective policy and decision making.

Indeed, resources are lacking, and/or are improperly assigned and invested, to address the impact of climate events and environmental degradation on health in the LAC region. Although several of the 33 countries have progressed in developing national-level climate change and health vulnerability assessments and adaptation plans, these continue to have “limited influence on the allocation of human and financial resources” [3]. That is, even when the assessments highlight the need for greater capacity to respond to the challenges at the intersection of climate, environment and health, governments may not be allocating funds for the production and use of evidence for decision making. We argue here in favor of prioritizing a transdisciplinary approach to science, focused on solutions-oriented research, to create the tools and collect the data we need.

In August 2021, more than 150 researchers and government officials from 35 states met to identify research and capacity building priorities at the Climate, Environment and Health Latin America and Caribbean scoping workshop [4] organized by the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI), the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), and the Belmont Forum. The event was held in conjunction with the Americas Group on Earth Observations, AmeriGEO Week 2021. Among the most important concerns that emerged in the discussions were: a) Data are produced and collected in the region, but they may not be granular enough, or datasets may have limited interoperability, such that diverse data from different sectors remain siloed or not useful; b) Transdisciplinary research frameworks supporting the integration of knowledge from different academic disciplines and non-academic ways of knowing are essential for improved databases and tools/interventions to support decision making; c) Effective communities of practice informing policy and decision making require the participation of non-governmental stakeholders, including from civil society and the private sector.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: APLOS Library
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2022 07:21
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2022 07:21

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