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Rockefeller Foundation

University of Exeter expert working as part of global team to promote human and environmental health

A University of Exeter expert has been appointed to a high powered, internationally prominent group of global government and business leaders working to show the connection between economic policy, human health and environmental change.

Professor Ian Bateman has been named as principal economic advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health at the Oxford Martin School. The Council includes major international figures such as: Richard Branson, Head of the Virgin Group; Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico; Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development; Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever; Mark Tercek, President of The Nature Conservancy and Lord Stern.  

The aim of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health is to improve both human health and the health of the planet. It brings together experts in human and ecosystem health, economic trends, market behaviour and policy-making to show links between human health and the natural world. Professor Bateman will advise the Council regarding how vital environmental resources such as air and water – our natural capital – impact on human health and how this can be measured and valued. The multiple impacts of economic growth on climate change, pollution and lack of water or food are often treated separately by policy makers and frequently ignored by business. The work of Professor Bateman, and the Council, will help to reinforce the fact that these issues are connected.

Professor Bateman will work with colleagues from the University of Exeter Business School’s Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP) and Dr Ben Wheeler from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health. Giving governments and businesses measurements of natural capital could help them make economic decisions which don’t threaten the environment or human wellbeing.  

In accepting this post, Professor Bateman said: “Our natural environment supplies huge amounts of the resources we need to maintain good health – our food, water and climate. But these resources are finite, and if you use them for one purpose they can’t be used for another. For example if you increase food production this also means more water is polluted. A lot of economic decision-making ignores this.

“Working together with Ben Wheeler and other colleagues we aim to show how the services provided by natural capital can be quantified, how its relationship to economic and health wellbeing can be assessed, and how this can lead to decisions being made which are better for the economy, the environment and for human health.”

Professor Bateman is Director of LEEP at the University of Exeter Business School. He also holds professorships in Australia and New Zealand, is a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit award recipient and is a Member of the UK Government’s Natural Capital Committee. He is also a Member of the Board of Directors of the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the Environment Agency Long-Term Investment Scenarios Development Group and the NERC Strategic Programme Advisory Group.

Date: 4 October 2017

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