Global conference sets health action agenda for the implementation of the Paris Agreement

Guest blogger: Rose Schneider

More than 300 government ministers, health experts and practitioners, non-governmental organizations, and experts in climate change and sustainable development attended the WHO Second Global Conference on Health and Climate, hosted by the Government of France, COP21 presidency. The participants proposed the Action Agenda with key actions to implement the Paris agreement to reduce health risks linked to climate change.

The World Health Organization estimates that climate change is already causing tens of thousands of deaths every year. These deaths arise from more frequent epidemics of diseases like cholera, vastly expanded geographical distribution of diseases like dengue, and from extreme weather events, like heat waves and floods. At the same time, nearly 7 million people each year die from diseases caused by air pollution, such as lung cancer and stroke. Experts predict that, by 2030, climate change will cause an additional 250 000 deaths each year from malaria, diarrheal disease, heat stress and undernutrition alone, with the heaviest burden falling children, women, older people and the poor.

Participants urged actions by the health sector to promote low carbon healthcare facilities and technologies, by calculating avoided healthcare costs when countries invest in mitigation of emissions. They promoted scaling up stakeholder groups to address climate change and improve health through a broad health and environment climate coalition.

Participants highlighted the importance of the health sector providing strong leadership in communicating to policymakers and the public about the urgent nature of climate change, its severe and growing health risks, and the gains that can be obtained by addressing climate risks and links to related issues, for example, climate change and air pollution. The Action Agenda and conference recommendations proposed at this, the second Global Conference on Health and Climate (July 2016) will contribute to COP22, to be held in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016.

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