Commissioner: Roberto Bertollini, M.D., M.P.H.
“We have the knowledge, we have the instruments, we have the international agreement: I hope to be able to witness the emergence of leadership and political commitment to take this agenda forward.”
Dr. Roberto Bertollini, M.D., M.P.H., is a member of the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks of the European Commission. He is currently an advisor for public health to the Minister of Health of Qatar, and a visiting professor for public health and environmental health at the Lisbon University. He has held a variety of senior positions at the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1991, including serving as WHO representative to the EU in Brussels and Chief Scientist of the WHO regional office for Europe.
Why did you decide to join the Global Commission on Pollution + Health?
All my professional career has been devoted to the protection of human health from environmental hazards. The work of the Commission is a very important opportunity to pursue my professional interests and objectives.
What impact will the work of the Commission have?
Irrespective of the extensive evidence on environmental hazards for health and the knowledge of effective actions, little progress has been made in many countries and the environment is still a major cause of ill health. By providing comprehensive data and effective operational options, I hope that the work of the global Commission can help push policy makers to undertake the necessary actions at national and international levels and facilitate decision making.
How can we overcome obstacles to progress in the fight against pollution? What changes do you hope to see in your lifetime?
We need a large coalition of forces at the local, national and international level to keep this issue high on the political agenda and in the public debate. The involvement of the media in this undertaking is crucial. The consequence on health and society of the degradation of the environment, including climate change, should the bread and butter of the policy discussion, not only on the occasion of environmental crises or disasters, but all the time with the emphasis on economic costs of inaction for individuals and the society. I truly hope to see in my lifetime the switch to a low-carbon society and the beginning of the end of the accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. We have the knowledge, we have the instruments, we have the international agreement: I hope to be able to witness the emergence of leadership and political commitment to take this agenda forward.
The Commission on Pollution and Health is an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with coordination from the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank. Commissioners include many of the world’s leading researchers and practitioners in the fields of pollution management, environmental health and sustainable development.