2011 GAIA Climate, Climate Change and Public Health Conference

Climate, Climate Change, and Public Health Workshop speaker slides now linked to session pages


Executive Summary (August 2011)

Global Assimilation of Information for Action (GAIA) is a new initiative at The Johns Hopkins University connecting decision-makers with the research community. GAIA's focus is on climate disruption and its effects on society. The key to the GAIA approach is building connections through a series of topical cyber-enabled workshops. These workshops feature a structure that brings together people from a wide range of disciplines to exchange ideas and information, to assess and prioritize needs, and to develop approaches to addressing those needs.


The first GAIA workshop, Climate, Climate Change, and Public Health, was held April 12–14, 2011, in Baltimore, MD at the Mt. Washington Conference Center. Attendance consisted of a diverse group of academics, health practitioners, journalists, policy makers, and students. The workshop featured both small, cyber-enabled working group discussions moderated by subject matter experts and invited speakers that provided broad overviews of climate change subjects. The GAIA event was structured as an investigation of several related themes, with the working groups developing their top issues as point papers. These point papers can be used for further action and to generate collaboration. This document summarizes discussions held during the working groups and gathers the key ideas in order to develop more detailed point papers at a later date.


Workshop Goals

Public health is often described as being comprised of four pillars: prevention, science, care for the medically underserved, and interdependence.1  Climate disruption due to global warming will have environmental impacts such as worsening air and water quality, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and resurgence and/or spread of infectious diseases.  Today, billions of people lack adequate nutrition, access to a viable public health system, and potable water. With the climate disruptions yet to come, further challenges are expected to impact more countries in more regions of the world. Different regions will face different problems as the climate continues to change, but such impacts don’t respect political boundaries (e.g., air pollution) and are globally interdependent (e.g., the import and export of food). 

A partnership between the climate and public health communities needs to be created and sustained. GAIA will provide the connections that enable adaptation to global climate change.  The first step in building these connections is the upcoming workshop “Climate, Climate Change, and Public Health.”  This cyber-enabled interactive workshop has several goals:

  • Review different types of climate change impacts on public health
  • Bring together professionals from different disciplines and organizations who share a concern about climate impacts
  • Seek consensus on the top climate-related issues facing the global public health community
  • Publish the findings and identify the needs for a sustainable virtual collaborative community to continue to address climate and public health issues

1US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Managed Care, Volume 14, Number 9, Supplement, September 2005

GAIA Workshop Users Guide.pdf640.48 KB