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Prescription for the EU policy cycle 2024-2029: healthy people on a healthy planet

HEAL envisions a world that is free of health-harming chemicals, where the air we breathe and the food we eat are health promoting, and a future in which we have transitioned in a just way to a non-toxic, decarbonised, climate resilient and sustainable economy and way of life, so that current and future generations to benefit from a clean environment to enjoy long and healthy lives. 

The European Union has been a leader in recognising and addressing the link between the deterioration of the natural world, the climate crisis and our health, and has adopted a series of measures and policy frameworks for healthy people on a healthy planet.  

But the pace of measures and the level of ambition and action needs to be ramped up, while keeping the priority of action to protect health against the triple crisis of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. 

With the elections 6-9 June 2024, the EU strategic agenda, and a new policy cycle to 2029, European Union decision-makers can choose the path to better health, by recognising the urgency to act and adopting environmental and climate policies which accelerate the transformation that needs to happen in this decade.

HEAL encourages all Europeans to go and vote, for better health for all!

Find out how to vote in your country:

Read HEAL’s election demands in detail here in English (or in PolishBulgarian) or check out our infographic. Our campaign demands are also available in German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish – find links below.

Read the blogpost by Genon K. Jensen, HEAL founder and Executive DirectorTo achieve a strong Europe, we need leaders unafraid to prioritise health


Ten pathways for better health 2024-2029

Protect the health of the most vulnerable

(Available in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish)

Pollution in the air, water, soil, in our food, in daily products can harm everyone, and is a particular risk for the most vulnerable.

Set EU policies which recognise vulnerabilities and set a level of ambition which protects them (e.g. strict clean air standards, swift pesticide reduction deadlines).

Recognise and act on the unhealthy connection between social inequalities and pollution

(Available in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish)

People living in poverty or facing economic hardships are at greater risk of health impacts from environmental and climate threats.

Recognise the interlinkages between social, environmental and health determinants and act upon them to ensure a just transition.

Invest in better health, not pollution

(Available in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish)

Public financing plays a key role in enabling the transformation towards healthy people on a healthy planet.

End all direct and indirect taxpayer financing of activities which harm health, the environment and the climate, especially when it comes to financing fossil fuels.

Place health at the centre of climate action

(Available in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish)

Europe is the most vulnerable region to impacts from heat, and the health impacts from climate change are increasingly being felt.

Adopt mitigation and adaptation measures which place health protection at the centre. This will result in significant health and economic shared benefits.

Stop burning fossil fuels for our health

(Available in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish)

The burning of oil, coal and gas fuels climate change and harms people’s health directly through air pollution and indirectly by fuelling global heating.

Adopt timelines and plans to end the burning of all fossil fuels swiftly, and boost energy savings and renewables, without following false solutions like burning wood.

Achieve clean air everywhere, for everyone’s health

(Available in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish)

Air pollution is one of the top risk factors for chronic disease in Europe, leading to hundreds of thousands of early deaths each year and a wide range of preventable health impacts which cost billions in health care.

Show political leadership to drive forward science-based clean air laws, including strict clean air standards and stringent measures to cut pollution in all sectors.

Ramp up health measures for a non-toxic environment

(Available in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish)

The health burden from hazardous chemicals is unacceptably high and keeps growing. Preventing the fast-rising rate of non-communicable diseases, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer, obesity and diabetes as well as infertility and learning disorders, requires urgent improvements in EU laws.

Swiftly restrict harmful substances such as endocrine disruptors and PFAS, which are widely used in polluting materials such as plastics, pesticides and many everyday products. Safer alternatives are available.

Accelerate the reform of EU chemicals law REACH to safeguard health

(Available in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish)

The landmark EU chemicals law REACH is in dire need of reform, as the pace of restricting and phasing out chemicals has been woefully slow.

Put forward a health-protective update of the EU chemicals law REACH, truly implementing the ‘no data, no market’ principle, allowing for swifter restrictions of (groups of) substances, accounting for our real-life exposure to chemicals mixtures in risk management.

Step up action for a pesticide-free EU, for healthy food and healthy people

(Available in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish)

Europe’s reliance on synthetic pesticides in agriculture, public and residential areas has harmed people’s health and nature.

Adopt measures to swiftly reduce exposure to hazardous pesticides, including ending pesticide use in sensitive areas. This will prevent new cancer cases, disruption of the body’s hormone system, reproductive disorders, and strengthen children’s healthy development.

Step up on healthy mobility

(Available in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Polish)

Walking and cycling benefits people’s health, the climate and clean air.

Prioritise and incentivise active mobility, especially in cities, together with a move towards accessible and affordable public transportation, as well as zero and low emission zones.

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