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Community / Land projects / GCRF Clean Environment and Planetary Health in Asia (CEPHA) Network

GCRF Clean Environment and Planetary Health in Asia (CEPHA) Network


09/19 - 04/21


This project is part of


Pollution of the air, water and soil is the largest environmental cause of non-communicable disease and death worldwide, responsible for around 9 million premature deaths annually. The greatest increases in non-communicable diseases are seen in low- and middle-income countries now experiencing epidemics of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Outdoor and indoor air pollution combined account for around 7 million of these deaths, predominantly in developing countries of Asia, particularly India and China. Environmental pollution affects everyone in society creating a heavy burden on quality of life, productivity and school performance. The underprivileged, including female and children, living and working in polluted environments are more at risk and unable to avoid exposure. Greenhouse gases emitted from the same sources (e.g. motorised transport, waste burning) have an impact on climate, increasing the risk of extreme weather events such as floods and heatwaves. Asian countries are urbanising rapidly and unsustainably, locking their populations in polluting behaviours through inefficient land use planning and poorly designed transport and housing infrastructure. Environmental pollution is a drain on development, disproportionately affecting underprivileged communities, for example those living in informal settlements, and vulnerable individuals, for example those with respiratory illness. For too long the relationship between prosperity and environment has been seen as a trade-off. Tackling pollution was considered a handicap to economic growth. Growing evidence now shows sustainable development can help improve not only health and the environment, but also the economy. The drive towards cleaner environments and low carbon development, provides a compelling opportunity to realise multiple societal benefits: to improve health and the environment, innovate and become more competitive. To address the huge development challenge of environmental pollution and non-communicable diseases in Asia, and harness opportunities provided by sustainable development, we propose the engagement network on Clean Environment and Planetary Health in Asia (CEPHA): to catalyse technological and societal innovation through deep engagement across disciplines and sectors that will stimulate transformative changes to business models, government policies and public health practice in Asia. Network outcomes will include long-lasting partnerships, enhanced knowledge exchange and capacity building, and co-creation of projects and resources focusing on actionable solutions to the challenges of improving the environment, decarbonising the economy, and reducing the burden on non-communicable diseases in Asia. We will identify and promote best practice that has the greatest potential to reduce pollution from different sources (transport, household energy, waste) and related non-communicable diseases, particularly in vulnerable groups (children, female, informal workers). This will be achieved through deep engagement with key stakeholders and communities, awareness raising, capacity building, and generation of income for research and innovation in key areas. The network will create long-term opportunities for inter-sectoral collaboration and knowledge transfer between and within low and middle-income countries in Asia and the UK. We have assembled an outstanding, well-balanced and integrated team of researchers, policy makers, public health practitioners, industry and the third sector to address this challenge. Importantly, the network will be open to new members and aim to develop a generation of well-connected local champions that will enable the transition to cleaner, more sustainable environments and better health in Asia.


The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) supports cutting-edge research to address challenges faced by developing countries. The fund addresses the UN sustainable development goals. It aims to maximise the impact of research and innovation to improve lives and opportunity in the developing world.

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