WHO Global Conference Highlights Climate Change and Health Interlinkages in SIDS
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WHO is convening the Third Global Conference on Climate and Health using an innovative, geographically dispersed approach.

The conference is being held in the three SIDS regions: the Pacific in Nadi, Fiji, from 15-16 March; the Indian Ocean in Saint Louis, Mauritius, from 21-22 March; and the Caribbean in Trinidad from 6-7 June.

The Conference includes a formal launch in each of the regions of the special initiative on climate change and health in SIDS.

The WHO initiative aims to ensure that, by 2030, all SIDS health systems are climate resilient.

22 March 2018: The World Health Organization (WHO) is convening a global conference on climate change and health, focusing on four action areas, including empowerment of health leadership in small island developing States (SIDS) to integrate health into national climate change planning, and evidence production through country profiles to assess risks regarding climate change and health.

The event also addresses implementation through building climate-resilient health systems, and provision of resources by facilitating access to climate and health financing mechanisms to support climate-resilient health systems.

WHO is convening the Third Global Conference on Climate and Health using an innovative, geographically dispersed approach. The conference is being held in the three SIDS regions: the Pacific in Nadi, Fiji, from 15-16 March; the Indian Ocean in Saint Louis, Mauritius, from 21-22 March; and the Caribbean in Trinidad from 6-7 June.

By 2030, climate change will cost an estimated US$2-4 billion in direct health expenses annually; yet, currently, less than 1.5% of international climate finance for adaptation is allocated to health projects.

The Conference includes a formal launch in each of the regions of the special initiative on climate change and health in SIDS. Originally launched by WHO, in collaboration with the UNFCCC Secretariat and the Government of Fiji, at the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UNFCCC in November 2017, the initiative aims to ensure that, by 2030, all SIDS health systems are climate resilient, and all countries are reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions both to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks, and to gain the health co-benefits of mitigation policies. It also seeks to provide SIDS with the necessary technical and financial support to build climate-resilient health systems.

WHO has made the health impacts of climate change on SIDS a priority, incorporating the issue into its Global Programme of Work for 2019-2022. The Organization is working with the UNFCCC Secretariat to develop the country profiles, and provide advice on how these countries can adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change on human health. More than 45 country profiles have already been completed and profiles for all SIDS are expected to be published by the end of 2018.

During the session in Mauritius, participants underscored the need for SIDS to “speak in one strong voice,” and undertake a multisectoral and coordinated approach to build a climate-resilient health system. Delegates highlighted the need to: leverage existing regional mechanisms to ensure that health and climate change are prioritized; strengthen national-level sectoral collaboration for evidence generation, surveillance, capacity building and resource mobilization; and strengthen existing networks to build human capacity in the areas of data generation, use and dissemination across regional and global platforms. They also called for governments, civil society and the private sector to work together towards achieving the SDGs. The outcome of the meeting will be submitted as a regional action plan at the World Health Assembly in May 2018 to obtain support and assistance to enable SIDS to cope with health and climate challenges.

In a related op-ed, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, echoing the words of former California Governor Schwarzenegger, said the UN and WHO should establish a rule that “no one is allowed to talk about climate change without talking about health.” They explained that, by 2030, climate change will cost an estimated US$2-4 billion in direct health expenses annually, and that, currently, less than 1.5% of international climate finance for adaptation is allocated to health projects, of which SIDS receive an even smaller amount.

The op-ed notes that more than 90% of the world’s population live where air quality does not meet WHO standards, and air pollution causes an estimated 6.5 million premature deaths annually. It highlights that increasing clean energy investment by 7% for the period 2012-2040 could prevent 1.7 million premature deaths from outdoor air pollution and 1.6 million deaths from indoor pollution. Espinosa and Ghebreyesus point to innovative approaches in SIDS, such as building cyclone-resistant health facilities and using solar energy to power medical services. They stress that, unless countries fully implement the Paris Agreement, climate change will increasingly threaten people’s health and well-being.[Third Global Conference on Health and Climate WHO Conference Webpage] [Climate Change and Health in SIDS: WHO Special Initiative in Collaboration with UNFCCC Secretariat and Fijian Presidency of COP 23] [WHO Report on Mauritius Meeting] [Government of Mauritius Press Release on Opening of Conference] [Objectives of Mauritius Conference] [Op-ed by WHO Director General and UNFCCC Executive Secretary]


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