Human Health, Sedentary Lifestyle, and Impressions from the Annual Conference of EstCoR/ by Dr Ragnar Viir
Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president of Club of Rome has reiterated the urgent need for transformational action, led by CoR once again.
The Annual Conference EstCoR 2019 discussed the role of small countries securing global sustainability. One of the global epidemics is deepening sedentary life that challenges sustainable health of humankind. How to tackle this?
Prof Tommi Vasankari, director of the UKK Institute in Finland has investigated social costs of physical inactivity, relationship between physical fitness and sedentary behavior. The calculated costs contained direct health care costs as well as costs of human productivity. The total annual costs varied between 3.2 and 7.5 billion euros. Interpretation of this loss for Estonian society might be about 1 billion euros annually. Moreover, according to Prof Vasankari “weeding out sitting is more difficult in public health than increasing exercise because our culture favors he first“.
So, what can we do?
Dissertation study by Ville Vasankari gives us some good advice: if we did not sit for more than 10 minutes at time, we would take good care of our heart and blood circulation; pauses for just 5 minutes would counteract the risk of diabetes (2). Good model to look for.
Participants of the Annual Conference EstCoR 2019 met the challenge with action – happily laughing they got up almost like dancing!
Thank you for showing the lead in uprising from sitting, President (of Finland) Tarja Halonen, member of CoR and keynote speaker Lauri Mälksoo, Professor of International Law at the University of Tartu and member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences!
2019 was dedicated to setting the frames to the coming three years by the new board, the main topic being the strategy Estonia 2035 that is prepared by the Government Office. EstCoR has kept eye on the development and tried to offer support in the process.
The other concern of the beginning of 2019 was the upcoming UNEA-4, which this time was led by Estonia. The main Assembly was held in Nairobi in March, 2019. In connection with SDGs in Europe and outside, Estonian presidency had a special underlining.
EstCoR was equally focused on nationwide R&D in the context of upcoming elections to the local and European Parliaments. Estonia’s R&D intensity indicator was 1.25 in 2016, placing Estonia 13th in the ranking of the European Union countries but it is not even a half of the target (3). As an example, in the US the indicator is close to 3, in Japan >3, in South Korea >4.
2020 is past
March brought us back to the discussions about national strategies 2020 and its targets not being met and targets of 2035 in the current global and local situation.
In April we analyzed how the elections evolved and what trends can we see as the results for a small soviet-transition nation state.
On 2019 we had to answer the basics before moving on to action:
What is SUSTAINABILITY?
What is the Club of Rome up to in 2019?
What is the priority to focus on?
We chose to answer through the thoughts of Graeme Maxton is a best-selling author, speaker and writer on the big challenges facing humanity – climate change, environmental degradation, inequality, unemployment and poverty. Graeme is a Full Member of the Club of Rome, was Secretary General from 2014 till 2018. Graeme claims that recycling is NOT the answer to global warming. Listen here.
How to fix the world in 120 pages
To grasp the scale of the task ahead is hard because it requires societies to question, and then discard, many of their most basic and cherished beliefs. It is not just climate change that has to be stopped, the oceans cleaned up, and species loss halted. It is the entire system of human development, so carefully crafted over so many hundreds of years, which needs to be completely overhauled. The economic system. Humanity’s purpose. What people consider as happiness, progress and freedom. It is these ideas that need to radically change. If humanity is to overcome its environmental problems and build a better world, it needs to question almost everything it considers normal. It is not the end-state that should concern societies most now, however. Before humanity can think about rebuilding the great edifice that is human civilization, it must first tear down great swathes of what has been constructed so far, and with grave urgency. Humanity will need to work hard before it can rebuild.
Change! Download CoR-suggested To do list 2019 from here.
We publish summaries of EstCoR activity in English through the CoR monthly newsletter.
 Social costs of physical inactivity and poor physical fitness/ Liikkumattomuuden lasku kasvaa – vähäisen fyysisen aktiivisuuden ja heikon fyysisen kunnon yhteiskunnalliset kustannukset
 V. Vasankari. Sedentary behavior, physical activity, and risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes mellitus. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-61-2928-0
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