Could I just start by saying, thank you very much to all the speakers
for preparing such excellent talks.
They were fascinating and not just because I had
to listen really hard to do this reflection.
But anyway, I think just three points I want to make.
I know everyone is pretty tired at this stage.
Trying to link all the speakers together was a bit of a challenge.
But the three areas that I would link these together are
around the links between environment and health
that were described in different ways, research and the future.
So starting with these links.
I think I will start with Stephanie,
when she said that sustainability cannot be attained
if we do not deal with debilitating illnesses,
which was interesting as a start-off
to this inter-connection between environment and health.
But that was followed by Mike,
who then gave a very positive story of 20% of the population
engaging with the natural environment greater than once a week,
and what that means for quality adjusted life years or qalys.
And that could be up to €2bn for the economy.
But he also gave the dark side of that.
And that was the unequal access to green and blue spaces,
that link to hopelessness and the link to disease prevalence.
But he also asked some really interesting questions.
And that was, does urban living
contribute or not to contra-environmental behaviour?
Does shopping equally contribute to people’s health,
which I thought was fascinating.
But he had a great framework there,
and that was health is something that’s done by you
and it’s related to environmental quality.
Whereas disease is done to you
and quite often is environmentally damaging.
And I thought that was a really nice framework on it.
But I think it was topped by David Pencheon’s description,
when it says, it’s not what you do to the environment
or what the environment does to us,
it’s what we do to each other because of the environment.
And I thought that was a really nice way of putting it.
And he just told us to get real, which, yeah, we probably do.
On research, Jock said we needed more cross-disciplinary systemic approaches
that balanced precision and relevance, embraced multi-causality,
longer timescales and multiple end points.
And that is true, and I think we would probably need
a bit more than the 0.6% of the EU research budget
that he described in order to do that type of research.
But then if we do the research you have to look at what Mike said,
and that was that scientific evidence was poorly put together,
which hampered our approaches to government for resources,
where 384 studies that they looked at
only got 11 studies that yielded data.
So we can still do a lot of bad research as well.
Jonathan then, in terms of his talk,
talked about local problems being masked by national assessments.
So again we can do a lot national research,
but still local communities feel that they are not represented within that.
And he did mention a role of big data
in trying to get to the local situation.
But Tom Connell from Galway County Council
also it was nice to see had a link
with the Insight Institute for Data Analytics in NUIG.
So there I thought was a good example of a local authority
cutting through that and going straight to data analytics on it.
But there were some really good questions from the floor.
We have no data at a locally disaggregated level
which is hampering that, and again good to see
Galway County Council doing some stuff.
And also a note of optimism that the potential
of using post codes as a tag could be a potential way forward.
But it’s too early to see.
But Teresa pointed to some integrated data that’s already there,
including the Health Well data that she did and a few more sources.
On the future, David Pencheon said that
we have to have a very positive vision for the future
which I would agree with.
And that was backed up by what Michael said, which was,
we really need a manifesto for the kind of environment
we want from a health perspective.
And it was great to see again Tom Connell and Galway County Council being,
as he said himself, in the front of the frontline,
creating places that people want to live in, work in and visit.
So there’s someone that’s kind of trying to grab this
and trying to describe the future.
And he indicated that health and wellbeing
was one of Galway’s five strategic actions.
And I really like the fact that they have a public realm strategy,
which I had never heard of before,
and I thought, that’s very interesting,
particularly because it’s dealing with quality of life
and creating better communities.
And that’s interesting too because Stephanie said
we are living longer but not living longer in good health.
But a lot of that care is going to happen
in communities and within people’s homes
- so the link back to a public realm strategy
where you are trying to create sustainable communities.
But Tom also pointed to the challenge
of getting political traction on implementing these strategies.
And Martin also attested to the fact that
we spend more time trying to avoid liability and blame
instead of looking at the evidence of harm.
So there are some uphill battles,
and particularly when David Hevey said
that we might have to go through 17 steps
from awareness of a problem to actually doing it.
And apathy, you can see, is the easier route for a lot of people.
But I think Stephanie said it very well
in terms of working together for the future,
we need to build a network of networks,
building on a long history of collaboration.
And Laura indicated that transformative change is needed,
because we cannot do it alone.
And what is clear that collaboration will be a significant part of the future.
But what do we do in that future?
We have to do more than stand up and look to our left and look to our right
and see what other people are doing,
as happened when the fire alarm goes off,
or to do what Teresa described,
which was doing public consultation after the report was written,
which I thought was a really nice one.
I’m sure that minimises the amount of comments you get back.
But maybe as was said,
we need to engage with communities, with their agenda.
And really the final note I would leave you with,
that we have to ask what concerns you
about barriers that prevent you from living the life that you value?
So maybe I will leave it at that point.
Thank you very much.
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Reflection & Close