Environmental Health and Equity

2030, two-thirds of the world's population will reside in cities, with the fastest growing cities in the developing world. The growth of cities is bringing about unprecedented challenges to the health and livelihood of its residents, as urban environmental quality worsens through increasing pollution and waste, water scarcity, and the effects of climate change. To counter the problems of environmental and health degradation, cities are developing smart, economically sustainable programs and policies which address the health and vitality of the urban space through effective environmental management. Between 2010 and 2011, the IHSP brought together leading experts, commissioned 10 case studies on sustainability, environment and health.  The year-long theme sought to find innovative, effective strategies on how to design policies and programs that promote environmental health and equity and how to improve environmental sustainability while promoting economic growth and poverty reduction.   An edited volume is forthcoming. 

2011 Annual Research to Policy Conference - Environmental Health and Equity

2011 Conference

On Saturday, April 30th, 2011, the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy (IHSP) hosted Environmental Health and Equity: Global Strategies and Innovation. The conference was an opportunity for an international group of leading practice, policy and academic experts to present and discuss innovative and effective strategies on how to design policies and programs that promote environmental health and equity, and how to improve environmental sustainability while promoting economic growth and poverty reduction. Download the conference agenda [.pdf].


OPENING KEYNOTES: Setting the Stage: Two Critical Global Challenges

David Satterthwaite: Senior Fellow, Human Settlements Group, International Institute for Environment and Development, and Editor of the international journal "Environment and Urbanization".

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William Cosgrove: President of Ecoconsult Inc., former Vice-President of the World Bank, President of the World Water Council, and President of the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement du Québec

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MORNING PANEL 1: Addressing Basic Needs: Water and Food


Håkan Tropp: Project Director, UNDP Water Governance Facility

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Donald Cole: Director, Collaborative Program in Global Health, University of Toronto

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Lise Bertrand: Montreal Department of Health and Social Services, Urban Environment and Health

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MORNING PANEL 2: The Built Environment: Land Use, Transportation and Housing

Vikram Bhatt: Professor of Architecture and Director, Minimum Cost Housing Group, McGill University

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David Banister: Professor of Transport Studies, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University

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Madhav Badami: Associate Professor, School of Urban Planning, McGill University

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Avi Friedman: Professor of Architecture and Co-Founder, Affordable Housing Group, McGill University

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LUNCHEON KEYNOTE: Environmental Health and Community Empowerment

Yuyun Ismawati: Founder and Director of Bali Fokus, social innovator and environmental engineer in community-based waste and sanitation programs in Indonesia, Goldman-Environmental-Prize recipient 2009, and Co-founder and Coordinator of Indonesia Toxics-Free Network

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AFTERNOON PANEL 1: Climate Change and Clean Energy


James Ford: Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, McGill University

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Alexandra Lesnikowski and Jody Heymann: Institute for Health and Social Policy, McGill University

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Tim Weis: Director, Renewable Energy and Efficiency Policy, Pembina Institute

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AFTERNOON PANEL 2: Green Jobs and Social Entrepreneurship

Sean Sweeney: Director, Cornell Global Labor Institute

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Ted Howard: Founding Executive Director, Evergreen Cooperative Initiative

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Stephen Huddart: Vice-President and COO, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

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CLOSING KEYNOTES: Citizen Participation in Environmental Decisions


Lalanath de Silva : Director of the Access Initiative, World Resources Institute, and Co-founder of the Environmental Foundation Ltd, the Public Interest Law Foundation in Sri Lanka, the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide and the International Public Interest Defenders in Geneva

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Angela Glover Blackwell :Founder and CEO of PolicyLink, a leading voice in the movement to use public policy to improve equity, access and opportunity for low-income people and communities of color

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Case Studies of Global Innovations by IHSP's 2011 Policy Fellows

See "Fellows" tab for more details.


Series on Sustainable Cities in a Changing Climate (2009-2010)

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Lise Bertrand, Anne Pelletier and François Thérien, Researchers at the Montreal Department of Health and Social Services (Agence de santé et de services sociaux de Montréal )

"Urban environment and health perspectives for Montreal: the examples of transportation, physical activity and food security"

View the presentation [.ppt]

David Brown

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Dr. David Brown, Associate Professor and Director of the McGill School of Urban Planning

"Tackling 'Wicked Problems' in Informal Settlements: A Case Study of Institutional Response to an Environmental and Health Emergency in Trinidad"

View the presentation [.ppt]

Pamela Robinson

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Dr. Pamela Robinson, Associate Professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada

"Looking back and moving forward: What can we learn from 10 years of Canadian municipal response to climate change?"

Rutherford Platt

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Dr. Rutherford Platt, Professor of Geography Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Cities, City University of New York (CUNY)

"The Humane Metropolis: People and Nature in the 21st Century City"

View the presentation [.pdf]

Lea Berrang Ford

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Dr. Lea Berrang Ford, Assistant Professor of the McGill Department of Geography

"Double warming: Urbanization, Climate Change and Global Health"

View the presentation [.pdf]

Nancy Ross

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Dr. Nancy Ross, Associate Professor of the McGill Department of Geography

"Do We Pay a Health Penalty for Living in Urban Environments?"

Madhav Badami

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dr. Madhav Badami, Associate Professor, School of Urban Planning and McGill School of Environment

"The Urban Environmental Challenge in Low-income Countries: The Case of Urban Transport in India"

View the presentation [.pdf]

2010 Policy Fellows

Case studies focused on creating a healthy and economically sustainable urban environment in terms of: food security, sustainable housing, water and sanitation, transportation, pollution and waste, and responsible land use. Fellows engaged with national and global policy makers, academics and community innovators to discuss important policy and program strategies for improving urban living.

Paul GiangPaul Giang, School of Urban Planning, McGill University:Community Involvement and Public Support in Sustainable Transportation Planning: The Case of Janmarg, India

Paul Giang was a graduate student completing a Masters Degree in Urban Planning at McGill University. He received his BSc Honours in Environmental Biology from the University of Alberta. His experiences in conservation efforts in Costa Rica have influenced his decision to focus on improving policies to better serve environmental and socio-economic needs. His research interests include policy analysis, topics relating to regional planning and governance, and the development of sustainable communities..

Kelly GrahamKelly Graham, Department of Geography, McGill University:  The Evergreen Initiative: Strengthening the Local Economy, Creating Jobs, and Being Green 

Kelly Graham completed a B.A. in Geography of Urban Systems at McGill with a minor in International Development. She is interested in social and environmental determinants of health and in particular in urban design interventions to improve health. In the past, she has worked as a research assistant focusing on strategies for translating research on public health interventions into practice. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in public health or urban planning. 

Shannon LockhartShannon Lockhart, Faculty of Arts, McGill University: Building Equity through Entrepreneurship:An Innovative Model in India 

Shannon Lockhart was a fourth year Bachelor of Arts student, focusing on World Religions and Biological Sciences. Her interest is in health systems in an increasingly connected world, particularly the ways in which every global citizen has a stake in the benefits of idea-sharing amongst populations. This year's fellowship focus on urban environmental programs and policies is of particular interest in light of the way it studies the innovative programs certain cities have implemented, while addressing a global problem. Shannon organized a medical supply collection and re-distribution program called Supplying HOPE here in Montreal and will pursue a career in Medicine. 

Tahiya MahbubTahiya Mahbub, Faculty of Education, McGill University: Creating Sustainable Waste Management by Changing the Lives of the Poor: The Case of Waste Concern, Bangladesh

Tahiya Mahbub is currently completing a doctorate in Educational Studies at McGill University. She has completed her B.A in Communication Studies from Loyola University Chicago and her MPhil from the University of Cambridge in inclusive and special education. She has been involved with the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), one of the largest NGOs in the world and worked with marginalized children living and studying in environments in which there are unprecedented challenges of pollution and sanitation. Her research interests include inclusive education, children's voice, and environmental degradation, especially in countries of the South. 

Denise Maines

Denise Maines, Department of History, McGill University:  Long-Term Management of an Urban Renewal Process in Malmö, Sweden

Denise Maines received an MA in the History of Medicine from McGill. She received her BA in History and Modern Languages at the University of the Fraser Valley. In the past, she has worked as a teacher in Québec, British Columbia and Cuba. She is interested in issues affecting access to healthcare in urban and rural environments, and the development of sustainable transportation and housing. 

Cosmin PaduraruCosmin Paduraru, School of Computer Science, McGill University: Creating Career Paths for Disadvantaged People through Education and Green Jobs: Lessons from Austin and Oakland

Cosmin Paduraru completed a PhD in artificial intelligence, focusing on decision making in complex environments for which a complete model is not available. He completed his BSc at the University of Bucharest and his MSc at the University of Alberta, both in computer science. He is hoping to have a positive impact on the world by applying his analytical skills and reasoning abilities to health and social policymaking. 

Kara QuennelKara Quenell, Department of Anthropology, McGill University: Ensuring Sustainable Neighbourhood Growth: Lessons from New York City's South Bronx

Kara Quennell received a B.A. in Anthropology with the intention of doing her honours in Medical Anthropology. Prior to attending McGill Kara worked with a community based organization in Saskatoon that focuses on food security. She continues to be interested in the social, environmental and health related implications of the way we grow and consume food. She is further interested in the intersection of health and technology as well as the structural barriers facing residents of urban inner cities. 


Nick SalterNick Salter, School of Social Work, McGill University: Slum Upgrading and Community Participation: A Case Study in Medellin, Colombia

Nicholas Salter completed a Masters of Social Work with a focus in International Community Development at McGill University. He received his BA in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from McGill. In a previous internship, he was involved in building a health and wellness model in consultation with community stakeholders. His research interests include examining how community organizing and development can be used to address inequalities in health and wellness and how to address the vulnerabilities created by climate change in developing countries. He also recognizes the importance of policy in addressing social determinants of health and to that end he is hoping to gain greater insight and participate in the development of health and social policy during his IHSP fellowship and in his future career. 

Elina Suzuki

Elina Suzuki, Department of International Development Studies, McGill University: Achieving Independence through Agriculture? The Municipal Urban Agriculture Program of Rosario, Argentina 

Elina Suzuki was in her final year completing an Honours major in International Development Studies with minors in Economics and East Asian Studies. She previously participated in the IHSP internship program, researching the effect of family background on educational attainment. Her research interests involve the effects urban living conditions have on political participation and socioeconomic mobility. She hopes to pursue graduate studies in urban planning, public policy, and international law.

Mitra ThompsonMitra Thompson, Department of Political Science, McGill University: Building Social Equity and Fighting Unemployment through Community Recycling and Urban Sustainability

Mitra Thompson was pursuing an MA in Political Science at McGill University, with a focus on comparative politics. She has also completed a BA in Journalism at Concordia University. She previously worked as a healthcare and pharmaceutical analyst for a business intelligence company based in the UK, where she first began to appreciate the challenges in developing public health and environmental policies that are effective and workable in large cities. Her research interests include preventative care policy, the development of common European Union health and social policies, and cost-effectiveness considerations in subsidizing public healthcare resources. 

Ensuring a Sustainable Future: Making Progress on Environment and Equity

(Oxford University Press)

Ensuring a Sustainable Future: Making Progress on Environment and Equity

"There is very little argument that the world is facing severe environmental challenges. Ongoing air and water pollution, increasing energy consumption, and the depletion of natural resources have all placed considerable stress on the capacity of our environment to support the present quality of human life in a sustainable manner.

Ensuring a Sustainable Future does what few previous works have: it examines these trends' disproportionate impact on the poor and the economically viable solutions that can serve to remedy them -- solutions that simultaneously address environmental and economic problems. This gap in previous research, evidence, and writing has left low-income countries often unwilling to take on major environmental problems and many poor communities believing they faced impossible choices between improving the environment in which they live and increasing the jobs and income available.

Bringing together evidence-based recommendations and in-depth case studies of successful policies and programs around the world, Ensuring a Sustainable Future examines innovative solutions to this crucial challenge. In doing so, it addresses a comprehensive range of environmental sustainability challenges affecting low-, middle-, and high-income countries."

Sustainable Cities Advisory Committee 2009-2011

The Sustainable Cities Advisory Committee (15 local academic and policy experts and 5 external experts) provided important advice on the case study selection process as well as the scope of our research on sustainable cities. Following their advice to select a focus for the case studies, we decided to narrow our case study selection to policies and programs that disproportionately benefit the urban poor, given their higher vulnerability to environmental impacts.

• Madhav Badami, Associate Director, Graduate Affairs, McGill University; and Associate Professor, McGill School of Environment and School of Urban planning

• Lea Berrang Ford, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, McGill University

• Vikram Bhatt, Professor of Architecture, McGill University

• David Brown, Associate Professor and Director of the School of Urban Planning, McGill University

• Normand Brunet, Professeur Associé, Institut de sciences de l'environnement, UQAM

• Christopher de Sousa, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

• Ahmed El-Geneidy, Assistant Professor, School of Urban Planning, McGill University

• James Ford, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, McGill University

• Avi Friedman, Professor, School of Architecture, McGill University

• Laurent Lepage, Professeur, Institut des sciences de l'environnement, UQAM

• Jessica Levine, Environmental Consultant, Commission for Environmental Cooperation for North America

• Nik Luka, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, McGill University

• Gordon McGranahan, Head of the Human Settlements Group, Institute for International Sustainable Development

• Pamela Robinson, Associate Professor School of Urban and Regional Planning, Ryerson University

• Nancy Ross, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, McGill University

• Andrew Rundle, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

• Marilyn Scott, Associate Professor, Institute of Parasitology, McGill University; and Associate Director for Graduate Affairs, McGill School of Environment

• Peter Stoett, Associate Professor and Chair, Political Science Department, Concordia University

• Craig Townsend, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University

• Nguyen Van-Thanh-Van, Chair, Deparment of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, McGill University; Director, Brace Centre for Water Resources Management; and Associate Director, Global Environmental and Climate Change Centre

• Nicole Volavka-Close, Associate Director, Center for Sustainable Urban Development, The Earth Institute 


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