The Impacts Hub has, in many ways, been in incubation for some time. Here we’ve traced some of that history right back to 1989.
Already with the first European Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and its Environment and Health Charter (1989) the governments of 29 European Member States recognized the “dependence of human health on a wide range of crucial environmental factors” (WHO Regional Office for Europe, 1989) as well as the need to integrate health and environment more into other sectors policies. Different strategic instruments are mentioned to protect health, such as, developing appropriate control measures, applying better prevention methods, strengthening information systems, and integrating health aspects better into EIA (WHO Regional Office for Europe, 1989). Succeeding conferences such as the declarations of London (1999) and Budapest (2004) reconfirmed the importance to fully integrate health into EIAs as well as to conduct SEAs of policies, plans, and programmes. The Parma Declaration on Environment and Health and its Commitment to Act (2010), recognizes impact assessments as important tools to promote the consideration of health effects in planning processes. The latest declaration of the Sixth Ministerial Conference, Ostrava (2017), calls for the strengthening “the knowledge and capacity for health and environmental professionals for HIA through further education and training” (WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2017). Hence, the WHO Regional Office for Europe supports its Member States through: national capacity building workshops on HIA and the integration of health into environmental assessment; developing training materials; collecting good practice examples; and supporting the development of guidance documents (http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/health-impact-assessment). The WHO Regional Office for Europe works in partnership with UNECE, and the EU and European Commission DG Environment and the WHO Collaborating Centre on Health in Impact Assessments at the University of Liverpool, to further promote a meaningful integration of health into environmental assessment processes.
An important milestones for this is the development of the Environment & Health Impacts Hub. The initiative for this webpage goes back to many request of the Member States for supporting them with material, guidance and exemplary case studies. A first expert meeting took place in 2015 to discuss the status quo on HIA implementation and the integration of health aspects in environmental assessments in order to develop support for Member States in furthering HIA implementation and enhancing integration of health aspects in environmental assessments (EAs). Participants especially emphasized the need for an online platform bringing together the different impact assessment worlds to share their experience and knowledge (http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/health-impact-assessment/publications/2017/health-impact-assessments-and-health-in-environmental-assessments-developing-further-implementation-strategies-2016).
At a second expert meeting in 2017 environmental assessment and HIA experts discussed the need of and options for the development of an online knowledge exchange platform on environment and health in impact assessments.This meeting furthered this work, discussing the need and possible structure of such an online platform (http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/health-impact-assessment/publications/2018/environment-and-health-impact-assessment-developing-an-online-knowledge-sharing-platform-and-network-2017). The first results of these discussions can now be seen in this E&H Impacts Hub.