IJERPH, Vol. 15, Pages 2237: Development of a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Using a Public Health Lens to Determine Local Health Vulnerabilities: An Ontario Health Unit Experience (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Climate change is negatively impacting the health of Canadians and is accordingly expected to have a significant impact on public health agencies and their response to these health impacts throughout the twenty-first century. While national and international research and assessments have explored the potential human health impacts of climate change, few assessments have explored the implications of climate change from a local public health perspective. An applied research approach to expand local knowledge and action of health vulnerabilities through a climate change action plan and vulnerability assessment was utilized by a local public health agency. Adoption and adaptation of the approach used may be valuable for public health organizations to assist their communities. Through completing a vulnerability assessment, an evidentiary base was generated for public health to inform adaptation actions to reduce negative health impacts and increase resiliency. Challenges in completing vulnerability assessments at the local level include the framing and scoping of health impacts and associated indicators, as well as access to internal expertise surrounding the analysis of data. While access to quantitative data may be limiting at the local level, qualitative data can enhance knowledge of local impacts, while also supporting the creation of key partnerships with community stakeholders which can ensure climate action continues beyond the scope of the vulnerability assessment.