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RG 6 : Supporting transformational change approaches in environment and health

Addressing global change and health issues requires transformational change, both in research approaches and in action. The key requirements of this comprehensive transformation are grounded in the crosssectoral conversion of the global and of national societies and economies compulsory, in order to avoid irreversible changes in global ecosystems, biodiversity and the climate, including the respective consequences for humankind. The current failure to address catastrophic scenarios and to mitigate the related risks can be interpreted as the failure to frame the case for transformational change and action clear enough and re-prioritise agendas across sectors accordingly. The concept of transformational change is thus an overarching dimension in global change processes and holistic concepts such as Planetary Health or One Health; it is also key to climate change mitigation and adaptation in order to achieve required fundamental individual, societal, economic and political changes to comply with the aims of the Paris agreement33 and to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees. Consequently, there are strong interlinkages to all other RGs described in the draft agenda, especially RG1 and RG3. Implicitly, transformational change approaches in this context generally strengthen and work towards solutions and problem solving. Transformational Change can be defined as a philosophical, practical and strategic process to effect revolutionary change within an organization, i.e., culture transformation. It is a systems approach applied to broad-based change to catalyse rapid shifts in the mental constructs inhibiting solutions to complex problems or in the organization’s culture that prevent it from realizing its full potential. It seeks to discover and integrate personal and organization development as an overarching approach to rapid change at all levels of system. A new EC framework is suggested to call for applying emergent research designs and project management requiring transdisciplinary work and transformational change that allows new questions and issues to emerge at the horizon during the process, potentially leading to substantial changes of the research itself and ultimately the established research culture. Projects are often short-sighted and short term; thinking ahead long term is required in the context of complex global environmental changes

The area of ethics and philosophy and how it relates to environmental and human health is very broad. It opens the discussion on values and the ethical dimensions of overarching philosophical questions dealing with human and animal rights and the responsibility for coming generations and the planet, of new technologies and products and their safety and application as well as of science communication. The overarching frame deals with research philosophy, and could extend beyond an anthropocentric perspective, particularly when taking a holistic approach like planetary health. Questions related to human and animal rights and responsibility for coming generations could be contrasted with the right to development and individual freedom. A more detailed level of research questions pertains not just to the planning and implementation of scientific studies and how scientific findings (and perceptions of those findings) impact society, both also to an individual and an administrative (i.e. policy-making) level.

RG 6.1 Transformational change & health

  Develop and implement innovative cross-sectoral and transdisciplinary research

  Strengthen the understanding of the philosophical background and the concept of transformational change

  Develop research methodologies and project management approaches

  Implementation science, data and applications

  Assess what data are needed to facilitate regulation and behavioural change

  Investigate how new tools, technological developments and digitalization both elicit transformational change

  Design complex interventions and scale up win-win solutions to the meso-leve

  Further investigate the power dynamics in specific constellations in the environment and health nexus

  Develop research methodologies and project management approaches

RG 6.2 Socioeconomic factors and the environment, environmental injustice, equity, sustainable economic growth

  Holistic approaches and methods to assess combined effects of multiple environmental exposures

  Monitoring and surveillance systems to assess various scales of environmental inequalities

  Implementation and policies

RG 6.3 Ethical, philosophical and political issues

  Develop research on the issue of responsibility towards future generations

  Analyse and monitor the statement of ethics related to research, communication

  Investigate power dynamics within research and related fields and their implication

  Develop methods to support efficient research

  Highlight consideration of human rights and animal rights

  Study the relationship between scientific evidence and different types of advocacy

RG 6.4 Science communication and science–policy-society dialogue

  Identify the most efficient framework for communicating scientific

  Develop scenarios for improved communication between industry and research/regulatory/public bodies

  Investigate and consider the role of think tanks in science communication and integration of knowledge

  Establish an ethical code for working with industry

  Develop a professional framework and ethical code in the context of toxicological research

  Investigate the application of citizen engagement and citizen science to improve science communication

  Study the relationship between scientific evidence and different types of advocacy