Health is influenced by resource development through interrelated socioeconomic, ecological, cultural, and political pathways which demand upstream, intersectoral responses. These relationships are especially important in Canada, where the economy remains tightly coupled with the development of natural resources and where the rate and scale of social and environmental change occurring in resource-rich regions is fueling debate regarding health impacts, especially for rural, remote, and Indigenous communities. Our project, titled "The ECHO Network (Environment, Community, Health Observatory): Strengthening intersectoral capacity to understand and respond to health impacts of resource development," aims to: (1) make evidence-based recommendations on the form and function of a cross-jurisdictional ECHO that will foster understanding of the complex dynamics of resource development and health; and (2) trial and evaluate intersectoral strategies to address the cumulative determinants of health that interact over time and space, targeting actions and responses that cannot be achieved by the health sector alone.
The research will involve four components, each linked to specific objectives, mentorship, and capacity building processes over five years: rural, watersheds, equity, and GIS-mapping.
A major output of the ECHO node is the creation of Battle River Watershed-specific atlas, built around a series of 100+ maps and 44 indicators constructed as an integrated and intersectoral framework for assessing public health in the watershed. This is the only atlas and interface of this scope, scale, and focus in Canada. It is a complement to both the indicator-based work, and the observatory functions of the ECHO network noted above.