Current knowledge and evidence on environmental health economics

WHO reviewed current knowledge and evidence on the economic dimension of environmental health policies as a basis for development of a European strategic framework on environmental health and economics. The ultimate goal is to provide better advice to its target audiences – notably relevant ministries and other government agencies and decision-makers. 


  • The review shows that economic tools are used increasingly in many areas of environmental health policy, such as water and sanitation, climate change, indoor and outdoor air pollution, chemical hazards and transport.
  • However, the application of commonly used tools (cost–benefit and cost-effectiveness-analysis, economic co-benefits, value of statistical life and other methods for monetary evaluation of public health outcomes) differs substantially from area to area. Economic evidence is often produced on a case–by–case basis; the methodology is not always robust and does not allow comparisons. 
  • There is no general consensus on basic assumptions for the models or key parameters, like discount rate or time bounds. 

WHO/Europe is addressing the gaps by developing guidance to harmonize approaches to the production of economic evidence, and by supporting specific assessments.