Ecological Economics and Public Health: An Interview with Dr. Trevor Hancock
In 2019, the National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy (NCCHPP) reached out to Dr. Trevor Hancock to discuss ways to introduce the core ideas of ecological economics to public health practitioners and decision makers. Some of those ideas were previously exposed in a 2015 report on the ecological determinants that Dr. Hancock led for the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) (Hancock, Spady, & Soskolne, 2015).
Those discussions eventually took shape in the form of the interview published here. As governments around the world, including the Canadian federal government, are thinking about ways to move beyond a narrow focus on economic growth toward the implementation of “well-being budgets” or “sustainable budgets” the ideas contained in this interview are timely to inform those reflections.
In what follows, Dr. Hancock addresses seven main areas:
- Ecological determinants of health
- The Anthropocene
- Ecological economics
- Alternative economic models
- Making the transition to another economy
- The role of public health
- Advocacy in public health
The overarching themes of this discussion concern respecting ecological limits and focusing policy and public health on achieving well-being for all. Dr. Hancock has targeted these areas for his entire career in public health. Ideas like these have never been timelier than they are today.
About Trevor Hancock
One of Canada’s leading public health physicians, Trevor Hancock is no stranger to the topic of ecological economics and public health. He first became interested in the topic while still a medical student in London in the early 1970s, as part of an ecological and political awakening that led him to become an area organizer for the People Party (later the Ecology and then the Green Party) in the UK in 1974, and later as the first leader of the Green Party of Canada in the mid-1980s.
One of his early book chapters, in 1986, was "Towards a healthier economy” in The Living Economy. He also co-authored a brief monograph with Ron Labonté in 1986 entitled Healthy Economic Development: Toward a Health Promoting Economic System. He has continued to have a strong interest in the links between the economy, the environment, and health, most recently exhibited in the 2015 report on the ecological determinants of health that he led for the Canadian Public Health Association.
Dr. Hancock recently retired as a Professor of Public Health at the University of Victoria. In 2015 he was awarded an Honourary Fellowship in the UK’s Faculty of Public Health, and in 2017 he was awarded the Defries Medal, the CPHA’s highest award, presented for outstanding contributions in the broad field of public health.
To learn more visit the website of the National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy - NCCHPP (http://www.ccnpps.ca/en/).