Catalysing collaborative efforts for healthy people on a healthy planet

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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Human health and environmental health are inextricably linked. Healthy people need a healthy planet.

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 global deaths are attributable to unhealthy environments. And 78% of European citizens agree that environmental issues have a direct effect on their daily life and health (Eurobarometer).

As the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson’s long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship is rooted in our company values and in the understanding that the health and well-being of people and the planet are fundamentally linked.

For decades, we have been delivering against public environmental performance and carbon reduction goals. Our most recent commitments are our most ambitious yet:

  • We will source 100% of our electricity needs from renewable sources by 2025
  • We will achieve carbon neutrality for all our operations worldwide by 2030
  • And we will work with our suppliers to reduce upstream value chain emissions 20% (from 2016 levels) by 2030

While we are doing our part to reduce our carbon emissions and help avoid the most significant impacts of climate change to human health, we also know that consumers are increasingly seeking products that are good for them, their communities, and the planet.

That’s why Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health introduced our Healthy Lives Mission, a $800 million USD investment through 2030 to improve human and planetary health.

Through our Healthy Lives Mission, we are evolving the way we do business – from designing products with the planet in mind, to tackling sustainability at all levels of our supply chain and improving product transparency so our consumers have the information they need when choosing health products for themselves and their loved ones.

Across our J&J Consumer Health product portfolio, we have set tangible 2025 targets to make our packaging easier to recycle or reuse:

  • 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic packaging; and,
  • 100% certified or post-consumer recycled paper and pulp-based packaging.

We are also excited to see the leading role that our European operations continue to play in driving environmental sustainability: our Consumer Health manufacturing plant in Helsingborg, Sweden, became J&J’s first-ever facility to achieve carbon2-neutrality for all energy sources across manufacturing, warehousing, and R&D facilities, in 2017.

This year, the plant has been recognised by the World Economic Forum, earning Light House status for applying Fourth Industrial Revolution practices that can serve as a model for all manufacturers and supply chains across the globe.

While we know that no one company or government will have all the answers to the public health and environmental challenges of our time, we are committed to collaborating with partners to learn, understand and share knowledge, expertise, and innovations to build a healthier future for all.

For example: as part of our 2016-2020 SDG Commitments, we helped support projects across 30 cities around the world to assess the health benefits of climate and air quality actions, which have the potential to positively impact 74 million people.

Working with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of nearly 100 megacities that are committed to climate leadership and action, we developed a toolkit to help city leaders undertake assessments of the health benefits of air quality actions.

This resource will continue to be available for anyone to access, providing valuable information for city mayors and planners.

We also value the power of partnerships and collaborations to transparently contribute to the public debate and help drive systemic change at scale. The All Policies for Healthy Europe coalition strives to foster knowledge sharing, best practices, and science-based policy recommendations towards putting people’s health & well-being at the centre of all areas of EU policy-making.

We support the coalition’s ‘health in all policies’ approach to address all health-related environmental threats, including pollution. The realization that environmental health is a critical human health issue can help galvanize actions and foster needed collaboration – within and beyond the healthcare sector – between private and public actors, in cooperation with NGOs and the scientific community to address the environmental determinants of health.

We invite you to engage with the Healthy Europe coalition and read its Zero Pollution paper.

You can also watch its latest event during the EU Green Week, which brough together experts from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Environmental Agency, and the OECD for knowledge sharing on concrete, innovative, and measurable initiatives and solutions to help policymakers effectively address the impacts of pollution and environmental change on human health and ensure health-proofing of EU policies.

Fostering multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral collaboration is an essential first step to create health-enabling environments, to help lift the burden of premature death and preventable disease in Europe, and advance better health & well-being for all.

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