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It should not be news anymore that climate change and severe weather events impact human health. When Minnesota average summer temperatures rise, there is an increase in ER visits and hospitalizations for heat-related illnesses. As communities flood with increasing frequency and severity, infrastructure is damaged, people are displaced, and water is contaminated, which may result in injuries, stress, depression, and water-borne disease outbreaks.
How a community is designed affects its ability to be resilient to these and other climate changes, and therefore affects population health outcomes. Comprehensive plans and environmental review processes can promote healthy and resilient communities or project designs through a number of common planning strategies and design elements.
In 2010, MDH received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to undertake a number of projects that addressed the health impacts of climate change. Two of the project areas included comprehensive plans and the state environmental review process. The final products of these efforts have recently been released on the new MDH Healthy Places web page.
MDH undertook studies of comprehensive plans from the seven-county metro area, and environmental assessment documents from across the U.S. to assess the inclusion of health and climate change, and best practices for improving planning. Final reports and tools for planners, including trainings, are posted on the MDH Healthy Places web page. The comprehensive plan training has a companion How-To Guide that steps through eight specific health goals that can be addressed in plans, and outlines 20 standard planning strategies for achieving the health goals.
Interested in learning more?
If you’d like to learn more about how your city can become a healthier place, plan to attend the MDH “Brown Bag” workshop “Planning for Healthy, Climate Resilient Communities.” The presentation by Kelly Muellman, planner for the Minnesota Climate and Health Program at MDH, will take place on March 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Burnsville City Hall.
Contact MN Dept. of Health