Environment & Health Sustainability Challenges

A clean environment is essential for human health and well-being. However, the interactions between the environment and human health are highly complex and challenging to understand. The Ryan Institute’s Centre for One Health (CoH) conducts research to unravel such complexity. Examples of ways in which environment and health interact include where poor sanitation and unsafe water supplies lead to water-related diseases, particularly in urban areas. Our sources of heat or energy, and the design of our houses, buildings and transport systems can contribute to indoor and outdoor air pollution causing respiratory disease.  Such challenges are being confronted by the Ryan Institute’s Built Environment and Smart Cities Research Cluster. Changing climatic and environmental conditions can increase the incidence of diseases, including diseases that are transmitted between animals and humans. The inappropriate use of antibiotics can threaten many of the medical breakthroughs of the last century, which are now in danger of being lost through the spread of antimicrobial resistance which renders antibiotics ineffective.

The Ryan Institute’s Biodiversity & Bioesources Research Cluster conducts research to mitigate the global loss of biodiversity and degradation of natural capital that continues at a rapid pace. This is despite the fact that biodiversity and well-functioning ecosystems provide a range of benefits - both direct and indirect - to society and the economy, playing a crucial role in sustaining livelihoods, health and wellbeing. Efforts to meet the global 2020 biodiversity targets need to play a key role in achieving key priorities, notably reducing hunger and poverty, improving health and ensuring a sustainable supply of food and clean water. Sustainable use of ecosystem services and natural capital can become a key driver in the transition to a green economy.