Global Change: a Public Health Researcher’s Ethical Responsibility

  • Mathilde PascalEmail author
  • Pascal Beaudeau
  • Sylvia Medina
  • Nikita Charles Hamilton
Ethics and Policy (M Tondel, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Ethics and Policy



Loss of biodiversity and globalized environmental degradation result in planetary-scale changes which impact human societies.

Recent Findings

This paper highlights the urgency for public health researchers to integrate a global change perspective into their daily work. The public health community needs to answer several questions, e.g., how to weight the health of present and future generations; how to balance between the possible immediate adverse impacts of mitigating climate change vs. long-term adverse impacts of global change, how to limit the environmental impacts of public health intervention; and how to allocate resources. Public health practitioners are faced with a moral responsibility to address these challenges.


Key elements to ensure long-lasting, innovative global change and health solutions include (i) empowering the population, (ii) tailoring the framing of global change and health impacts for different stakeholders, (iii) adopting less conservative approaches on reporting future scenarios, (iv) increasing accountability about the health impacts of mitigation and adaptation strategies, and (v) recognizing the limits of science.


Global change Climate change Planetary health Biodiversity Public health Ethics 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathilde Pascal
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pascal Beaudeau
    • 1
  • Sylvia Medina
    • 1
  • Nikita Charles Hamilton
    • 2
  1. 1.Santé Publique FranceParisFrance
  2. 2.Jagiellonian University Medical College, and École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique (EHESP)The University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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