Consider the following global realities: 1) An estimated 7 million deaths are attributed to air pollution every year; 2) rates of chronic diseases are accelerating worldwide; and 3) greenhouse gas emissions –responsible for the global climate crisis – rose the fastest in the past decade.
How are these linked and what are best approaches toward solving these global health and planetary challenges?
The World Health Organization hosted the first-ever ministerial-level Conference on Health and Climate Change in August 2014 in Geneva and more than 400 delegates (including 25 ministers of health or environment) from 96 countries had agreed that climate change poses‚ 'unacceptable risks’ to global public health. At the same time, it was also recognised that policy-makers in health have to join forces with climate negotiators, as well as actors across sectors to confront climate change. But opportunities abound at the nexus of global health and energy policy making.
Heads of States and Government have agreed at the UN Climate Summit held in September 2014 in New York that climate change is a defining issue of our time and that bold action is needed to reduce emissions and build resilience. It was also acknowledged that climate action should be undertaken within the context of efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and promote sustainable development. This conference was to create and raise the political momentum for a new meaningful and universal agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to be held in December 2014 in Lima, Peru will continue drafting negotiations leading up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21 / CMD11) during December 2015, where final negotiations are expected. Health is of central concern in these climate debates. Indeed, the focus on health might help policy makers overcome the current stalemate in the discussions, particularly if 'health co-benefits' are included with a broad coalition of stakeholders. Climate change adaptation for health can improve coherence and synergies across different disciplines and sectors and requires looking at governance challenges in a new way.
What are those governance challenges which need to be taken into account in the preparations for Lima 2014 and Paris 2015? What are the co-benefits for health (energy, the food system, urban planning and transportation) that should be highlighted in the upcoming negotiations? How might a 'Health in All Policies' and a global health approach best contribute to make a difference?
The half-day public event will address these issues by keynote addresses and a panel discussions with engaged academics, policy makers and international organisations. It will assess the outcomes of the WHO Conference on Health and Climate and the UN Climate Summit 2014 in view of the upcoming events. Therefore, the event will bridge and combine the different fora, potentially adding a more coherent, cross-sectorial approach to this this global challenge.