Climate Change and Health – A Rapid Risk Assessment Tool for Prioritizing Risks
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
Region of Waterloo Public Health
Climate change is a defining Public Health challenge of the 21st century and is already impacting the health of Canadians. The health risks associated with climate change highlight the growing need for effective action on climate change adaptation. Adaptation can help to protect against these risks through evidence-informed policies and programming that build resilience.
With support from Health Canada’s Health ADAPT Program, Region of Waterloo Public Health (ROWPH) and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) jointly conducted a Climate Change and Health Vulnerability Assessment (CCHVA) to synthesize available data and evidence to help inform local adaptation planning with the goal of reducing climate-related health risks and their impacts on vulnerable populations. Among the project goals for the vulnerability assessment included: providing recommendations, based on local evidence, on priority areas to focus adaptation measures for decision makers and stakeholders to strengthen the resilience of communities to respond to the impacts of climate change.
To support achieving this goal, the project team developed a rapid risk assessment tool to rank climate-related health risks. The rapid risk assessment tool was based on frameworks outlined by the World Health Organization, Health Canada, and Emergency Management Ontario. The results of the Rapid Risk Assessment provide a comparison of the relative risks between climate-related health impacts the study area is currently facing and can expect in the future.
The information synthesized and assessed in the CCHVA, including the Rapid Risk Assessment, lays a foundation for understanding local vulnerabilities to climate change. The findings inform, and support prioritizing, local adaptation initiatives that build more resilient communities.