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[Event Report] HGPI Participates in the Connecting Climate Minds Global Event (March 19-21, 2024)

[Event Report] HGPI Participates in the Connecting Climate Minds Global Event (March 19-21, 2024)

The Connecting Climate Minds Global Event was held in Barbados on March 19-21. This event is the culmination of the efforts of over 800 participants from more than 80 countries, who have worked together over the past year on the impact of climate change on mental health.. During the event, participants representing 7 regional communities of practice came together to hear firsthand lived experiences from the people in each region on the negative impacts that climate change-related stressors have had on their livelihoods, share and finalize the research and action agendas, and reflect together on the next steps.

Mr. Joji Sugawara, Vice President at Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI), and Ms. Niaya Harper Igarashi, Program Specialist, attended in-person and virtually to present highlights on Japan as a Regional Co-Convenor (RCC) for the Eastern and South-Eastern region. Mr. Sugawara presented on the current activities of HGPI concerning planetary health and the commitments of the Planetary Health Advisory Board for this year. He highlighted the importance of engaging multiple stakeholders to advance planetary health, including mental health, and the need to bridge the gap between research, policy, and politics.

Ms. Igarashi introduced shirin-yoku (forest bathing) as a case study for one potential solution as an intervention to the mental health impacts caused by climate change. The practice of shinrin-yoku originated in Japan in the 1980s, and it involves immersing oneself in nature and connecting with it through our five senses. Shinrin-yoku has been shown to regulate mood and improve overall mental health, particularly with a greater effect on improving anxiety, which suggests that shinrin-yoku could be an effective treatment for climate anxiety and other emotional consequences of climate change; however, more research is needed on the effectiveness as an intervention for those affected by climate change. The case study on shinrin-yoku, among others throughout the seven regions, can be found in the case studies in the Global Online Hub.

The “Global Online Hub” which launched at the event, is an online space for learning, connection, and collaboration. The hub is a go-to platform for climate change and mental health research, where you can access toolkits, case studies, and lived experience insights and stories, with many more resources to come.

Another important resource that can be found in the hub is the regional agendas, which set out aligned priorities for research and action in the seven regional communities to 1. understand and address the needs of people experiencing the mental health burden of the climate crisis, and 2. enable this research and translate evidence into action in policy and practice. A total of 30 priority research themes emerged across the four key research categories of the project: (1) impacts, risk, and protective factors (2) pathways & mechanisms (3) co-benefits of climate action for mental health, and (4) mental health interventions in the context of climate change.

The Connecting Climate Minds project brought together a community of local experts across regions, collaborating across disciplines with a shared vision to accelerate the efforts to address the current and emerging challenges at the intersection of climate change and mental health. The work that has been produced will be essential to ensure that mental health is aligned at the regional and global levels while catalyzing the necessary investment in the climate change and mental health field going forward.


About Connecting Climate Minds

Connecting Climate Minds is a global initiative funded by Wellcome, that brings together expertise across research, policy, design, and lived experience from across the globe. The aim of the project is to develop a research and action agenda of global and regional community convenors dedicated to connecting climate change and mental health.

For more information on the activities of the Connecting Climate Minds, please click here, and for more information on the regional community of practices, please click here.

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