Setting research priorities in environment and health. Report of a meeting (2017)



Research in environment and health (EH) is of crucial strategic importance for contemporary society. This is becoming even more critical in light of the increasingly fast pace of environmental changes, opportunities and threats.

It is essential to set the EH research agenda around key priorities, especially in consideration of diminishing public budgets in some areas; a focus on technological innovation and job creation; and the increasingly prominent role of the private sector. More clarity is needed, given the rapidly evolving global sustainability agenda, the ever-increasing sources of complexity and growing expectations of the public.

This requires the identification of criteria to identify EH research priorities, with the ultimate goal of maximizing societal benefits. Often used implicitly, these criteria include:

  • public health relevance (e.g. extent and severity of health impact, level of exposure, inequalities of effects);
  • policy potential (e.g. availability of remedial action, feasibility); and
  • innovation (i.e. production of new knowledge vs refinement of existing knowledge).

Once fully developed, these criteria will facilitate an open consensus-based process of priority setting in EH research.