The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 14, Number 2, 2015

ISSN 1602-2297

Politics of Coordination in Environmental Health

Jesper Holm*, Bente Kjærgård and Erling Jelsøe, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University, Denmark.
*Corresponding author:

Abstract: Since mid-1980s a growing number of coordination efforts between public health and environmental policy sectors have emerged in the EU and nationally. In local projects, policies, and international regimes various ad hoc initiatives to long-term strategies have evolved. These efforts are full of proclamations on the interconnectedness of environment and health but, in fact, severe drawbacks in policy sector coordination have occurred. This paper provides analytical tools from Jordan and Lenschow’s (2010) work on environmental policy integration for studying the efforts and paradoxes in sector coordination. Based on this, an overview of the various approaches to coordinative efforts, from an international level to a specific national setting (Denmark), is presented in order to discuss whether and how firm policy coordination is substantiated, and to what extent it is a realistic option. The most important conclusion is that in spite of numerous policy coordination efforts on international levels, both the public health sector and the environmental protection sector in Denmark, as well as in most other EU states, do not seriously address the need for coordinating efforts, or perhaps, more precisely, neglect to place this on the agenda, separately or jointly. We suggest that only governmental hegemonic projects on sustainable health or environmental health promotion assisted by research, institutions, and strong local innovation programmes on selected areas could combine social and environmental factors and allow for a more permanent sector policy integration.

Key words: WHO, UN, national strategies for environmental health, sector policy integration

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