PANEL DISCUSSION | Building Climate-Resilient & Sustainable Health Systems through US-Japan Leadership

November 8, 2023 | 4:00-5:30PM
Washington DC

This panel discussion explored the relationship between climate change and human health and wellbeing as part of existing approaches recognizing the interconnections between the health of people, animals, and the ecosystem. JCIE/USA hosted the event as part of the US-Japan Council’s 2023 Annual Conference. Panelists from the United States, Japan, and the World Bank addressed the various health impacts of climate change including equity issues resulting from disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations, and the need to build environmentally and politically sustainable health systems. The discussion further seeked to identify how the United States and Japan can exercise global leadership and promote multisectoral collaboration to address these issues.

* Summary forthcoming. A transcript is available upon request.


John Balbus, Acting Director, Office of Climate Change and Health Equity Acting Director, US Department of Health and Human Services

Motosada Matano, Minister, Head of Political Affairs Department, Embassy of Japan Washington, DC

Gayle Smith, CEO, ONE Campaign

Monique Vledder, Practice Manager, Global Health, Nutrition, and Population Unit, The World Bank

Kazuyo Kato, Executive Director, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE/USA) *Moderator*

John Balbus

Dr. Balbus is the Acting Director of the HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity. A physician and public health professional with over 25 years of experience working on the health implications of climate change, Dr. Balbus has served as HHS Principal to the US Global Change Research Program since he joined the federal government in 2009. He also helped create and co-chair that organization’s working group on Climate Change and Human Health. Before his current post, Dr. Balbus served as Senior Advisor for Public Health to the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 

Prior to joining NIEHS, Dr. Balbus was the Chief Health Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and an Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services. He received his MPH degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, his MD from the University of Pennsylvania, and his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Harvard University.  He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2021. 

Motosada Matano

Mr. Matano is Minister in Charge of Political and Security Affairs at the Embassy of Japan in Washington DC. Prior to his current assignment, he served as Deputy Director-General of the Foreign Policy Bureau and Ambassador in charge of Policy Planning of the Japanese Foreign Ministry (MOFA), after serving as Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff to Foreign Minister Motegi from 2019 to 2021. His other past assignments include Japan-US trade relations; lead services trade and investment negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement; national security issues including Japan’s cooperation with Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and renewal of Japan’s security strategies; bilateral diplomacy with Middle Eastern countries and Indo-China countries as well. He also served in the Prime Minister’s Office as Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs during the Abe administration.

Gayle Smith

Gayle E. Smith is CEO of the ONE Campaign. She has served as a top advisor on international issues for three American presidents and is one of the world’s leading experts on global development and global health security. In 2021, Smith took on a temporary role as the US State Department’s Coordinator for Global COVID Response & Health Security, where she played a leading role in efforts to end the global pandemic. Prior to joining the ONE Campaign, Smith served as the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, where she led a staff of more than 10,000 people working to end extreme poverty, foster sustained and inclusive economic growth, and promote resilient, democratic societies all over the world. She also served as Special Assistant to the President and a Senior Director at the National Security Council in both the Obama and Clinton Administrations.  

Monique Vledder

Dr. Monique Vledder is the Practice Manager for the Global Health, Nutrition and Population Unit at the Worldbank leading the team responsible for technical assistance, analytical work, partnerships and learning on key global health issues including service delivery, climate and health and pandemic preparedness among others. Until recently she was the Head of the Secretariat for the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents (GFF), a multi-stakeholder global partnership housed at the World Bank.