King County Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) and its Environmental Health Services Division (EHS) are dedicated to building innovative and intersectional climate solutions that support community resilience and limit the climate burden on frontline communities. The department’s Blueprint for Addressing Climate Change and Health (Blueprint) offers a unique and necessary approach to incorporating health and equity into climate change planning across King County. However, PHSKC’s and EHS’s engagement in climate change has been very limited and not coordinated due to a lack of dedicated funding, lack of localized research and solutions, and a need for training and building staff capacity. Recently, the King County Council has recognized this gap in designated resources, especially in light of the severe climate change-related weather in June 2021 that left at least 25 residents dead, and has requested that PHSKC develop a proposal that outlines the funding and staffing needs to initiate implementation of public health-related climate actions.
With this context in mind, FUSE will support King County in successfully establishing a climate health equity program, focusing specifically on programs and projects relevant to EHS that are laid out in the Blueprint. FUSE will develop an implementation framework and strategy for organizational capacity development, determine the resources needed to coordinate and sustain activities, conduct staff training to increase knowledge of the connections of climate and health, and strengthen collaborations and partnerships with community groups and private institutions to ensure effective program delivery. The end-product will enable PHSKC to actualize its goal of reducing the public health risks associated with climate change, creating more resilient and equitable communities.