Thursday, 1 February 2024, CIEH President, Mark Elliott
My first month as President has been one of many meetings. I’ve been engaging with students, members, the Board and CIEH team on a range of areas including air quality, EH capacity and capability, and transparency.
An important start – EH capacity and capability
I made an important start in support of the theme of my presidency – EH capacity and capability – by presenting at a careers webinar earlier this month. Students were able to learn about EH and what a rewarding career it is. The session was recorded and will be available to many more students. This will be part of continuing activity to encourage the next generation to join our profession.
Winter is here – air quality and Clean Air Night
On 24 January we saw the first ever #CleanAirNight, which raised awareness of the uncomfortable truth, for some, about wood burning. In winter in the 1950s the profession was at the forefront of dealing with air quality. “Smoke control”, as it was described, was undertaken to reduce domestic coal burning and coal fired power station emissions that caused premature mortality. You could literally see the air pollution as very dense smogs in urban conurbations, especially in London.
Today we are dealing with unacceptable air quality that you cannot see. It was difficult enough in the 1950s to elicit political responses to improve the environment. Back then politicians were shocked into action on learning of excess deaths due to the smogs. This resulted in the Clean Air Act of 1956.
It is just as difficult today to gain political momentum to improve public and environmental health. Common sense and empirical evidence never seem quite enough to elicit timely health interventions. Ella Kissi-Debrah’s fame is tragic: she died, aged nine, after an acute asthma attack in south London on 15 February 2013. She had had more than 25 emergency hospital admissions in the previous three years. In 2020, a landmark coroner’s report made Ella the first person in the world to have air pollution cited as a cause of death.
You cannot easily escape poor air quality. Air quality improvement is best delivered as a co-produced effort. The current substantial deregulation agenda across our EH pillars needs careful circumspect scrutiny. Our CIEH Advisory Panels will be expertly influential in this arena.
An update from the Board – supporting the profession
The Board has resolved to adopt a Minute Redaction Policy as an action to deliver the March 2023 Special Meeting resolution calling for minutes to be published. The Board at the February meeting will be discussing “Openness, transparency and accountability - fit for purpose?” What sort of organisation should CIEH be? I welcome your thoughts and comments on this.
The Chair and Board together with CIEH colleagues and members are working very hard to support the profession. CIEH can only continue to grow and thrive if we have your support, so please do renew your membership and continue to engage and be part of our professional institute.
I am grateful for all those that have contacted me. Please do continue to email me at [email protected], as I continually seek member’s views, comments and ideas.
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