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GT1 Health. 


Working group 1, called "Health", focuses on SDG 3 ("Health and Well-being"), the general objective of which is to "ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all people at all ages". This general objective has several specific objectives, among which we can highlight sub-objective 3.4, the goal of which is: "In 2030, to reduce one-third of premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment, as well as promote mental health and well-being". This requires action on health promotion and healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

Health promotion, according to the World Health Organisation, is "the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and improve it". Therefore, it is about acting at the level of the determinants of health to improve it and avoid or minimize the risk of disease. Furthermore, health is considered in its multidimensional vision, as the World Health Organisation said in its definition, which includes not only physical health but also mental and social health. To promote health, health education and a healthy environment approach are essential. This implies a multidisciplinary approach to promote health and prevent illness in places or social contexts where people participate in daily activities, and where organizational, personal and environmental factors interact on health and well-being. In this case, the university environment is considered a good setting for health promotion and, in this context, various network initiatives have emerged to promote health in universities. One of these is the Spanish Network of Health Promoting Universities (REUPS, from its Spanish acronym), while at the regional level, the University of Valencia also is part of the Valencian Network of Healthy Public Universities. Universities have great potential in health promotion, as they can carry out multiple initiatives to promote health, not only among the staff who study and work there but also extend these activities to society in general.

In 2018, CRUE agreed on the contribution of Spanish universities to the Action Plan for the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations, acquiring the commitment that Spanish universities would generate and transfer knowledge following the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the objectives and values of Sustainable Development in a cross-cutting manner in all their actions. In addition to the global commitment acquired from the CRUE, each university has established its action itinerary. Although the 17 SDGs constitute a reference framework to guide actions aimed at reversing climate change and protecting the planet, all of them are interrelated, so that at the same time, they contribute to reducing inequalities, increasing the development and prosperity of people and their health.

As far as "Health" is concerned, this new policy environment shows that we can no longer focus on isolated aspects of so-called human health. At the same time, the health of the planet and all its ecosystems must be considered. This is why the concept of "One Health" has advanced strongly, highlighting this interdependence. Therefore, health actions will have to take into account, among others, SDG 13 "To take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts" and SDG 15 "Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss" as they are linked to energy efficiency indicators, have a lower carbon footprint, have a greater commitment to climate, biodiversity and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions.

Considering that food is one of the lifestyle factors that contribute most to the promotion of health, we must consider not only the healthy composition of diets but also their sustainable aspects in terms of greenhouse gas emissions from food production, transport and processing, water use, land use and other indicators of environmental sustainability. Therefore, SDG 2, in terms of its objective to "drive a deep change in the global agri-food system, as it will be necessary to increase agricultural productivity while making food production sustainable", is also closely related to health promotion within the SDGs.

Similarly, SDG 5 (gender equality) is very relevant in its different dimensions. In the report Gender, Climate Change and Health, the World Health Organisation reports that the vulnerability of women to problems related to climate change is higher than that of men, which is why efforts to apply a gender perspective in health studies and actions must be intensified. It also highlights the need to work on better indicators of the impact of climate change and sustainability for research on gender, sustainability and health. Bearing in mind that there are gender differences in food consumption, in other lifestyle variables, and in the prevalence of different health problems, all this can result in different environmental footprints, for which it would be advisable to intensify efforts in the incorporation of computing, big data and artificial intelligence to generate and elaborate more disaggregated indicators of health and environmental footprints.

Working Group 1 is a multidisciplinary group that integrates people from the university community interested in the different dimensions of Health in its broad sense, incorporating the healthy and sustainable aspects. This group has a close relationship with other working groups and there are frequent collaborations. First, we are focusing our efforts on obtaining health indicators in our university environment by promoting surveys on health problems and the different determinants. We consider these determinants in a broad sense, including diet, physical activity, consumption of tobacco and other addictive substances, sleep habits, stress, etc., and in the future, we may incorporate the analysis of genetic susceptibility. At the same time, we carry out actions to promote healthy lifestyles, promoting healthy and sustainable eating through different actions in collaboration with other universities and/or institutions. In line with the great concern for mental health and the promotion of emotional well-being prioritized by the Ministry of Health, we are initiating several activities within the group that we want to strengthen with the incorporation of more people interested in the subject. The university community includes a very wide age range, including students, teaching and research staff, and administrative and service staff. For this reason, health promotion must also be adapted to the different needs of each group. A more complete study of these needs within the working group will allow a better personalization of the recommendations. We welcome contributions and collaborations from all those who may be interested in joining the working group.

Join the Health Working Group 1. Send an email to sostenibilitat@uv.es

Dolores Corella, Head of Health Initiatives

Professor of the Area of Preventive Medicine and Public Health. Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Food Science, Toxicology and Legal Medicine.