25 February 2011

Interesting presentation: Six things scientists can learn from science journalists

I found this presentation interesting and I think it has a lot of implications for both HIA and knowledge transfer in general.

24 February 2011

Webinar: Tackling wicked problems through post-normal and transition science

I came across post-normal science during my PhD work and it is a core part of my understanding of why communities and other non-expert stakeholders need to be involved in HIA.

I have an old poster which shows how I think post-normal science links to HIA (including the image above). Click here to download it.

You can join the webinar by clicking here.

 Thursday, February 24, 2011
  5:00 pm   Western European Time (London, GMT)

  9:00 am   Pacific Standard Time (San Francisco, GMT-08:00)
12:00 pm   Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
  4:00 am   Australia Eastern Daylight Time (Sydney, GMT+11:00)
12:00 am   Bangkok Time (Bangkok, GMT+07:00)
  6:00 am   New Zealand Daylight Time (Wellington, GMT+13:00) 

Can’t make the date?
If you register for the event, you will be sent the archived version the following day.

Duration:1 hour

The normal conduct of science – with its rules of trying to reduce complexity and eliminate uncertainty – has not only failed to resolve ‘wicked’ problems such as climate change and industrial pollution, it has had a hand in causing them. This Earthcast will consider changes in the way we do science that could help us resolve ‘wicked’ problems – so-called because they defy traditional problem-solving methods. Join a free webinar presented by Jerome Ravetz, originator of post-normal science, and Valerie Brown, originator of transition science and editor of Tackling Wicked Problems, who discuss the new kinds of knowledge we need to tackle our ecological and social crises.

The presenters argue that the normal conduct of science – with its rules of trying to reduce complexity and eliminate uncertainty – has not only failed to resolve ‘wicked’ problems such as climate change and industrial pollution, it has had a hand in causing them. This Earthcast will consider changes in the way we do science that could help us resolve ‘wicked’ problems – so-called because they defy traditional problem-solving methods.  
  • Jerome Ravetz will explain how he developed Post-Normal Science, which allows for uncertainty and imagination. This is appropriate for policy issues where facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent.
  • Valerie Brown will present her work on Transition Science.  Through her work with over 300 communities, she has identified ingredients needed to bring about social change: key individuals, members of the affected community, specialised advisors, influential organizations and a holistic focus. Valerie will propose that collective knowledge, the sum of these multiple knowledges, is emerging as the basis for a Transition Science.

You can also read more about post-normal science here:


And one critique of it here:


23 February 2011

Tuvalu: A snapshot of our future?

There's a striking piece by Maina Talia over at New Matilda on the effect of the rising King Tides in Tuvalu, which now totally inundate the small Pacific island nation.

Apart from the heart-wrenching nature of the story I couldn't help but wonder if Tuvalu's plight, and the lack of response from Western nations, offers an insight into what much world will look like in 20 years time.

19 February 2011

The Impact of an Advocacy HIA?

An open letter on Australian human rights was published today, signed by 32 prominent Australians. It makes direct reference to the Northern Territory Emergency Response HIA that was published by the Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association last year (article, report).

The Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), also know as 'The Intervention', is a major policy response by the Australian federal government to concerns about Aboriginal health and welfare in Australia's Northern Territory. The NTER includes a number of far-reaching measures, including:
  • Suspending parts of the Racial Discrimination Act.
  • Introducing income management for support payment recipients by restricting expenditure to certain shops and linking it to children's school attendance.
  • Child health checks.
  • Appointing managers of all government business and acquiring land title in prescribed communities.
  • Some increases in policing and on-ground clean up.
  • Alcohol and pornography restrictions on Aboriginal land.
  • Abolishing the CDEP.
This HIA was conducted without the direct support or involvement of the proponent or the decision-maker, both the Australian Government in this case. The goal was to identify potential impacts and to create pressure for the implementation of the Intervention to be improved.

The HIA didn't result many obvious immediate changes. However this open letter and other references to the HIA have shown that it influenced thinking amongst a number of stakeholders.

We need to take a broader view when thinking about what makes an HIA effective.

16 February 2011

Does calorie labelling change consumption? Maybe not.

A recent study has found that the introduction of prominent labelling on fast food menus in New York City had little impact on children's and adolescents’ fast-food choices.

The study compared children in a low income area in NYC to a similar group in New Jersey, which doesn't have menu labelling requirements. It found that there was no significant difference in caloric purchasing between the two groups.

Of course this is only one study and it needs to be replicated in different contexts. It adds to the existing evidence suggesting that menu labelling won't be the simple policy solution to population obesity rates that some might hope.

11 February 2011

Reasons Why the HIA Gateway Should be Saved - 2nd UPDATE

This post is linked to our earlier post on the 'Save the HIA Gateway' CampaignClick here to check out that earlier post.

These comments are those received by 9th Feb' 2011. I'll keep it updated as I add more quotes.


The HIA gateway is still today the best and most updated source of information for those interested not only in HIA but also in health in other sectors and policies. To stop the funding for this web-based clearing house would negatively affect not only public health but also all the other sectors that have benefited by joint policy/decision making in the last 8 years.

Francesca Viliani, International SOS, Denmark


I am a consultant working in the field of HIA and frequently refer to the site.  In the absence of statutory guidance on HIA, the Gateway offers a great resource to allow practitioners to benchmark against best practice in HIA. There is growing recognition of the links between urban planning and health, and as such HIA should be recognised and supported as an essential means of achieving better health through planning and development.

Jenny Dunwoody, Arup


HIA Gateway is a valuable resource for those wishing to gain an understanding of HIA and its practice – practitioners, academics, private and public sector employees who would like to know about the process and training available.  This is not just limited to the UK but it has a global audience and as such enhances the UK’s reputation for being proactive and forward thinking about health and wellbeing and inequalities.

Liz Green, Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit


The HIA Gateway is valuable as the primary reference point for HIA methodology in the UK, in one of my key areas of business – evaluating and planning for waste treatment infrastructure.  It is essential for the UK to develop a new range of waste recycling and treating facilities, and HIA will have a key role in developing high quality facilities.

Dr Mark Broomfield, AEA Technology


Just today I referred colleagues to the portal as a resource for evidence to support development of the state of Georgia's nutrition and physical activity strategic plan.

Jane Branscomb, Georgia State University, USA


As a Professor in the Andalusian School of Public Health and coordinator of the Master in Public Health, I completely agree on your demand for continuing funding the HIA Gateway which we (teachers, professionals and students) found invaluable for sharing knowledge on HIA and contribute to the progress of the population’s health.

Professor Alberto Fernandez Ajuria, Andalusian School of Public Health (Spain)


The HIA Gateway is an invaluable resource. Its loss will be an act of irresponsible vandalism.

Professor Martin McKee CBE, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


As a regular but relatively infrequent user of HIA methodology, the gateway is always my first port of call for examples of previously undertaken HIAs on the topic I am addressing, for evidence to support potential impacts, and for appropriate tools to use in conducting a health impact assessment. I have found the gateway to be an invaluable repository of HIA related wisdom and resources and if left to languish without administrative support I feel this would be a great loss.

Jilla Burgess-Allen, NHS Stockport


International resources like theHIA Gateway in the UK are critical as we try to establish and broaden the use of HIA in the United States.

Cathleen Baker, San Mateo County Health System, USA


HIA Gateway has provided invaluable support to the development of Mental Well-being Impact Assessment in the UK and beyond.  The website provides an essential mechanism to communicate best practice and to ensure the development of effective and sustainable practice.  The input from Sue Wright to the National MWIA Collaborative has been excellent and her contribution has ensured high quality products and outcomes of our work.

Jude Stansfield, DH/NHS North West & National Mental Well-being Impact Assessment Collaborative


The Joint Health Unit is working to build capacity and skills in HIA within Lancashire County Council. The gateway provides invaluable support through sharing practice.

Deborah Harkins, Lancashire Public Health Network


It is essential that the HIA Gateway continues as a national and international resource as it is an important source of information and practice which greatly assists in the preparation of SEA.  HIA is an important component of Strategic Environmental Assessment.  I support the campaign to ensure the continued existence of the HIA Gateway.

Graham Esson, Perth & Kinross Council


The HIA gateway is invaluable to Colleagues here at the Joint Health Unit and Lancashire County Council. Without it we would have no way of keeping up to date with latest happenings in the world of HIA. It would increase our workload as we wouldn't know where to go to get access to up to date HIAs that have been completed. It's also a way to link colleagues with those in the UK and overseas who are working in this area. I hope that you are able to find a way to ensure that funding continues.

Kayt Horsley, Lancashire County Council


HIA gateway is a resourceful website for both lay and experienced people who are involved in conducting HIAs around the world. It creates a standard for how HIA is done and provides guidiance for as many who need it. I believe that a vacuum will be created if this is taken away. So Yes! Let’s save HIA gateway.

Ifeoma Dan-Ogosi Centre for Health Impact Assessment, Institute of Occupational Medicine


This website is too important to us folk who are physically removed from the happenings in the UK and across Europe. The HIA gateway supports and enables cross-continental collaboration and intellectual debate and I do hope that it survives this turmoil.

Jessica Anson, Monash University, Australia


The HIA Gateway serves as a very useful portal for HIA reports, guides and toolkits, as well as a source of valuable information relating to HIA activities and practitioners within and outside the UK. I have found it very helpful in my academic and research activities

Marcus Chilaka, University of Salford


Personally I have found and continue to find the HIA gateway incredibly useful. My involvement in the HIA field has been fairly recent and the HIA gateway played a key role in introducing me to HIA concepts and methodologies. Beyond that, the gateway is still one of my top resources for collecting invaluable material on specific types of HIAs when I have needed them. It is also very handy in keeping me abreast with HIA news around the world as well as having access to international best practices in public health and HIA. Continued access to the HIA Gateway also helps to inform public health/HIA contributions in other sectors whose activities impact on health and wellbeing.

Gifty Amo-Danso, Centre for Health Impact Assessment, Institute of Occupational Medicine


It is deeply concerning that the HIA gateway is under threat. The gateway is a valuable portal that provides vital information for international and UK health impact assessment and public health practitioners. This information enables and strengthens HIA as one of the few policy interventions with the explicit aim of using health evidence to improve people’s lives across the globe. Losing the gateway would be a massive step backwards for public health internationally and risk the UK government faltering from its once coveted position of global public health leadership.

Patrick Harris, Research Centre for Primary Health Care & Equity, University of New South Wales


Please add my name to the list of supporters (international) of the HIA Gateway. The HIA Gateway has been my main resource for HIA, both theoretically and practically all the way through my young career as a HIA practitioner. Without the HIA Gateway we will loose the global overview of literature and reports on HIA. This would be a terrible loss for all.

Mette Winge Fredsgaard, MWF Consult


I would like to add my support as a spatial planner who finds the resource of the website very useful in justifying and communicating the approach to health assessment to my clients.

Paul Tomlinson (URS/Scott Wilson)


I believe that we should save the gateway as it enables us to keep up to date with developments in HIA and to share best practice

Bruce Poole (Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council/NHS Tameside and Glossop)


We have found the website useful to find reports from other areas in order to encourage the local authority to engage with Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment and to help explain the concept to them. It is useful to have a central resource to find these reports.

Lucy Smith (NHS Lambeth)


I believe that health impact assessment is a vital tool for public health practice and the HIA gateway is necessary for its continued development

Stephen Watkins (Stockport PCT)


I would like to register my support to saving the HIA Gateway. It is an invaluable resource tool, both as an instrument of basic education on the methodology and practice of HIA, as well as a very useful starting point for scoping specific HIA's and allowing a rapid and cost efficient assessment of the way forward. I have used the resources to complete HIA projects in countries in the Middle East, where gains in public and community health have been hard won, with substantial investment of time and resources. Such gains, however, may be fragile and reversible should due care and suitable assessment not be applied regarding these issues in development. The UK is seen as a leader in HIA in these countries, and the HIA Gateway certainly contributes to that recognition.

Aamer Raza (Independent HIA and EIA Consultant)


4 February 2011

Decline of car pooling in the USA

A really nice historical and sociological piece on how car pooling was popular in economically hard times but began disappearing with affluence and changes in how and where people lived in the USA.

Most importantly the article raises the question that because of the way we are it is unlikely to become popular again in the US whatever the incentives policy-makers might wish to use.


1 February 2011

The UK National Heart Forum's Global Health Impact Assessment Project

Some information on a project being conducted by the UK National Heart Forum that might be of interest:

The development of Global Health Impact Assessment is in line with the principle set out in the cross-Government strategy, Health is Global, to take greater account of the global health impact and equity of UK foreign and domestic policies. It should assist UK policy makers to develop policies which promote or protect health globally, particularly in relation to:
  • the determinants of health, such as access to clean water, sanitation and education
  • people’s ability to improve their own health, such as their income levels and food security
  • the factors that affect access to healthcare, such health system payment mechanisms and cost of medicines
We aim to pilot and support the uptake of a Global Health Impact Assessment tool which will accompany existing Health Impact Assessment tools and guidance currently available on the Department of Health website. The tool will support policy makers across Government to assess the global health impact of their policies. We would be happy to share the tool for people to comment on and review, and are also interested to hear from colleagues who might be interested in piloting the global HIA tool as part of their work.

If you have any questions regarding the project or survey, please contact Modi Mwatsama at the National Heart Forum, email: modi.mwatsama@heartforum.org.uk or the Global Health team at Department of Health, email: globalhealthteam@dh.gsi.gov.uk