Health and Environment Linkages Initiative

HELI home page illustration
UNEP/Topham; Topham Picturepoint; UNEP/Shihua Zhao; UNEP/Wenren Yang

HELI is a global effort by WHO and UNEP to support action by developing country policymakers on environmental threats to health. Environmental hazards are responsible for an estimated 25% of the total burden of disease worldwide, and nearly 35% in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.1

HELI encourages countries to address health and environment linkages as integral to economic development. HELI supports valuation of ecosystem 'services' to human health and well-being – services ranging from climate regulation to provision/replenishment of air, water, food and energy sources, and generally healthy living and working environments. HELI activities include country-level pilot projects and refinement of assessment tools to support decision-making.

Promoting better access to knowledge and tools

Promoting better access to policy-relevant tools and knowledge about health and environment linkages is a third HELI activity, and the focus of this web portal.

There are two ways to navigate this site. You may search by category of tool. Or you may search by priority risks to environment and health, that are a special focus of HELI. In each priority risk category, you will find a "one-stop shop" containing directories of web-accessible resources and policy briefs. Links and information are focused on the human and monetary 'cost' of environmental hazards to health; practical 'solutions' that address the environment-health linkage; and case study examples of good practice and action.


  • Scientific data and assessment
    Tools for collection, analysis and reporting of environment and health data, including monitoring and mapping of environment and health trends/indicators; and environmental burden of disease assessment.
  • Impact assessment
    Tools for linked consideration of health and environment impacts in policy and development decisions.
  • Economic assessment
    Tools for economic valuation of linked health and environment impacts, as integral to the assessment process.


Many resources in the directories are accessed through existing World Health Organization and United Nations Environment Programme portals, and through portals of other United Nations institutions. Links to selected resources available through other organizations, e.g. international and bilateral development agencies; academic and research institutions; and government/civil society, also are provided (see selection criteria and disclaimer).

The development of the HELI web site was made possible with funding from Environment Canada and Health Canada.

1Health and environment in sustainable development: five years after the earth summit. Geneva, Programmes on Health and Environment, World Health Organization, June 1997 and Smith KR, Corvalán, Kjellstrom T. How much global ill health is attributable to environmental factors? Epidemiology, 1999, 10 (5): 573-84.


Health and Environment: Managing the Linkages for Sustainable Development

Ecosystems and human well-being: Health synthesis

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

Health/environment journals on line





Health & environment: tools for effective decision-making

Health & environment: tools for effective decision-making

The WHO-UNEP Health and Environment Linkages Initiative (HELI): Review of initial findings

Information package in environmental and occupational health

Information package in environmental and occupational health