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Connecticut Builds Climate and Health Resiliency

Yale Public Health Magazine, Focus: Spring 2024
by Hannah Beath and Jennifer Wang


Connecticut stands at a critical time for building climate and health resiliency. With growing climate-related health risks from heat, extreme weather, vector-borne disease, and air pollution, this is an all-hands moment requiring urgent action and collaboration to ensure everyone is safe, healthy, and resilient in a changing climate.

Recognizing this need, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) worked with the Yale Center on Climate Change and Health (YCCCH) to secure a CDC Climate-Ready States & Cities Initiative (CRSCI) grant to implement the Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework in Connecticut. We’re excited to share our progress and to suggest how you can take action, too.

Our BRACE work focuses on capacity building and adaptation planning at the state and local levels. In 2023, groundwork was laid with the establishment of DPH’s Office of Climate and Health and the publication of the Connecticut Climate Impact Compendium – a compilation of journal articles, state and federal reports, and other documents for reference by the public, academic partners, and state and local officials and policymakers.

We’re gaining momentum this year. In January we kicked off the Climate and Health Equity Coalition, a group that will provide strategic, technical, and evaluation advice on all aspects of our BRACE work, including health equity considerations. Coalition members represent the breadth and depth of climate and health expertise found within the state, including public health and health care professionals, advocates, and experts from academia and state agencies.

In March, we hosted the first-ever Connecticut Symposium on Climate Change and Health to share the latest evidence on how climate change is affecting community health in Connecticut, and best practices for building resilience. The nearly 170 participants in this virtual event showed that there’s a clear interest in this topic and a need to continue nurturing our statewide climate and health community.

We’re now turning our focus to supporting local health departments (LHDs) in responding to climate impacts. One component, led by DPH, will deliver climate and health educational programming for local health departments to increase capacity and reduce community exposure to the health impacts of climate change. To inform curriculum development, DPH recently surveyed LHD directors to understand their interests and concerns. The other component, led by YCCCH, will help local health departments plan for extreme heat and unhealthy air. We just launched an opportunity for local health departments and federally recognized tribes to apply for pilot grants from DPH to develop Local Heat and Air Quality Preparedness and Response Plans, with assistance from YCCCH.

Our BRACE activities serve as the foundation for increasing resiliency against the health impacts of climate change in Connecticut. We’re thrilled to be leading this work in collaboration with local health departments and other stakeholders to ensure protection of the health of all residents.

And we do mean this is an “all hands” effort, because many people are still unaware of the climate-health connection. Reach out to your local and state leaders to ask how they’re preparing for the health impacts of climate change. Let us know how it goes, and how we can help!

Your Action Item For Change:

Explore public health data. The Connecticut Climate Impact Compendium contains a wealth of information, from air quality reports to wildfire smoke tracking.

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