About the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE)

Mission

To protect the health of people throughout the US in the face of climate change, especially those experiencing a higher share of exposures and impacts.

History

On January 27, 2021, President Biden directed the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity to address the impact of climate change on the health of the American people. On August 30, 2021, under the direction of the Assistant Secretary for Health, the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity was established as part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Immediate Office of the Secretary.

Purpose

The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity addresses the impact of climate change on the health of the American people. Exercising powers of convening, coordination and collaboration, the Office serves as a department-wide hub for climate change and health policy, programming, and analysis, in pursuit of environmental justice and equitable health outcomes. The Office also facilitates the use of regulatory and statutory powers of the Department of Health and Human Services to address matters affecting disadvantaged communities and people on the frontlines of the climate crisis. The Office works alongside community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, academia, business, industry, along with, state, tribal, local, and territorial governments, to define and implement strategies, conduct strategic outreach and communications, and train and empower community residents.

Office Priorities

  • Identifying communities with disproportionate exposures to climate hazards and vulnerable populations
  • Addressing health disparities exacerbated by climate impacts to enhance community health resilience
  • Promoting and translating research on public health benefits of multi-sectoral climate actions
  • Assisting with regulatory efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and criteria air pollution throughout the health care sector, including participating suppliers and providers
  • Fostering innovation in climate adaptation and resilience for disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations
  • Providing expertise and coordination to the White House, Secretary of Health and Human Services and federal agencies related to climate change and health equity deliverables and activities, including executive order implementation, and reporting on health adaptation actions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Promoting training opportunities to build the climate and health workforce and empower communities
  • Exploring opportunities to partner with the philanthropic and private sectors to support innovative programming to address disparities and health sector transformation

Working Groups

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) houses two working groups that address climate change and health equity:

  • Interagency Working Group to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable
  • Health Care System Readiness Advisory Council

OASH is also a member of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice.

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH)
Content last reviewed