COP20 – What, Why, How?

It has been already several weeks now since we have start planning our stay in Lima, Peru, for the 20th Conference of Parties (COP20), the biggest annual United Nations meetings on climate change. From December 1st to December 12th, a delegation of 4 members representing IFMSA will be on the ground working hard to ensure health and climate change are discuss hands in hands. We will be using this blog to engage with you and to daily update you about our work and thoughts. But why not before we all leave to Peru, a short entry about the Whats, Whys, and Hows of COP?

What is COP?
The Conferences of Parties (COP) are the decision-making body of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This intergovernmental process has been operating since 1994, and serves as the international forum for negotiations and discussions on global action to combat climate change. They are held once a year, and they bring together tens of thousands of key stakeholders from member states, civil society, groups and intergovernmental agencies from all over the world.

What makes COP20 so important?
The world is preparing for COP21 in Paris in December 2015, hoping to by then, have a global binding agreement on greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 to onward – a thing previous COPs have failed to achieve. COP20 will be particularly important because it will pave the way to Paris. The negotiation text of Paris will be drafted in Lima this year; and we will be hearing about what the countries are ready to commit to. Recent declarations from the United States, China and the European Union will particularly echo in Lima.

Why do we send medical students to a conference on climate change?
Climate change is said to be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. But it is also the biggest opportunity to improve health of billions around the world. IFMSA believes that medical students must be involved in the discussions to ensure health is not left aside negotiations. As the doctors of tomorrow, it is our hope to see our patients as healthy as possible and to keep them outside the hospitals for as long as we can; and this has to be linked to environmental and social determinants of health. Protecting the environment, reducing air pollution, adopting mitigation policies, are public health measures.

What will IFMSA be doing?
The delegation has been working hard in the past few weeks to prepare for this COP. We had several online meetings to discuss our strategy, and we have organized a very successful hangout session this past Sunday to get more input from IFMSA members. Here’s a brief overview of what we will be doing in the next two weeks:

  • Participate in the 10th Conference of Youth (COY10) to connect with other youth organizations;
  • Give a 2-hours workshop on climate and health during COY10;
  • Work with YOUNGO, the umbrella organization representing the youth voices in the UNFCCC negotiations;
  • Collaborate with the World Health Organization to make sure health stays on the climate health agenda;
  • Attend the Climate and Health Summit, organized by the Global Climate and Health Alliance;
  • Promote IFMSA points of view on climate change and health through advocacy and lobby;
  • Contribute to many publications and blogs such as Outreach, and here on IFMSA Blog;
  • Make sure we make our voices heard using social media, such as Twitter;
  • Track the negotiations process and report back;
  • And much more!

Our 3 keys messages
We will be asking policy makers to help us build:

  1. A world in which strategies to achieve rapid and sustained emissions reductions are implemented today to protect our health.
  2. A world in which climate change policies are seen as an opportunity to improve health of populations worldwide.
  3. A world in which youth, as part of the solution, are involved in policy-making for sustainable, resilient and healthy societies.

How can you get involved?
There will be only four of us on the ground in Lima, and we will need your support and engagement to make sure we are well heard. We have set-up a Google Group for internal communications (join us!). We will also try to blog daily to update you about the process, and we would appreciate if you could share the information in your network. If you are a twitter fan, please consider using #climatehealth and #COP20, and tagging @ifmsa in your tweets. You can also retweet us as much as you want. We also have a very active Facebook Group (join us!) which is used to share articles, news, updates, etc. You might also wish to submit your climate selfie, and explaining why as a young health professionals, you find climate change important. You can also organize events at your university to make sure your colleagues and friends are well informed about climate change and health: ask a teach, plan a movie-debate night, start a group discussion, have a kiosk during lunch time, etc. The ideas are infinite and are yours to make it happen!

We invite you to email us at vpe@ifmsa.org may you have any questions; or if you are interested in being more involved.

Until next time,

Claudel P-Desrosiers (IFMSA VPE)
On behalf of IFMSA Delegation to COP20
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IFMSA at the European Youth Forum

IMG_4449Between the 18th and the 23rd of November, I was present in the European Youth Forum’s General Assembly in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the European Youth Capital for 2015 together with Kornelija Maceviciute, our Liaison Officer for Students Organizations.

IFMSA is a full member of the European Youth Forum, accessing to a platform that aggregates around 100 youth organizations, in which we discuss and learn about youth rights, non-formal education and many other important topics.

This federation holds a General Assembly every two years. In this GA, we’ve discussed the Work Plan of the European Youth Forum, agreed on Policy Resolutions and elected the board for the next term.

Kornelija and I gave input in several discussions, namely the inclusion of Universal Health Coverage in the European Youth Forum’s Work Plan; while drafting a Policy Resolution about the TTIP we raised awareness about the potential negative impact of this agreement on health-related issues, such as access to Medicines and Surgical Procedures; we actively participated in the elections’ discussions and outreached with many Youth Councils from Europe that will definitely help and work with our European National Members Organizations.

Plus, on the first day, we presented IFMSA in a Youth Fair for more than 300 guests, event during which the European Youth Capital for 2016 – Varna, Bulgaria – was publicly announced.

Surely we will put a lot of effort to continue following-up the European Youth Forum’s work and we will try to put health on the european youth agenda, so we can continue increasing the quality of our advocacy at the regional and global level.

Entry written by Alberto Abreu Da Silva, IFMSA Regional Coordinator for Europe 2014/15

The Inauguration of the World Health Students’ Alliance

Student collaboration touches each and everyone of us, from daily sharing of notes in university to projects and advocacy. We seek to join forces with our colleagues to be bigger, stronger and refresh our ideas. That is why almost every general assembly we approve memorandums of understanding, where we clearly define how are we going to work with our fellow organisations. Yet sometimes, we tend to forget that this is not the end of the road that we have decided to walk together.

World Health Students’ Alliance (WHSA) idea was born in Prague, during the World Health Students’ Symposium (WHSS) in 2011. Medicine, Pharmaceutical and Dental students international decided to create a platform where they can join forces in order to advocate for health as a whole and not only on their own perspectives. Sadly, shortly after signing the agreement we all got concentrated more of our internal issues, reforms, structures.

Now came the time to revise something that we have forgotten. We initiated a meeting of International Dental Students’ Association (IADS), International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) and IFMSA, in order to revise the agreement that we have, talk about the structures and ways to move forward with the original ideas of the Alliance, to work on advocating our common goals.

On November 17th, during the International Students’ Day, the three organisations met in Prague’s Charles University, where we opened the event in which the Alliance idea was born in 2011, to sign the declaration of Wolrd Health Students’ Alliance, where we unite our efforts to fight common challenges together, to advocate for the best outcomes for the community, to improve interprofessional relations and to support each other in achieving our visions.

November 17th was not chosen accidentally, since historically it has 75 years ago, on October 28th 1939, during one of the biggest demonstrations against the occupation of Czechoslovakia, a student of Charles University, Jan Opletal was shot, dying few days later on November 11th. His funeral on November 15th , originated the last big demonstration, led by students of city of Prague, against the occupation by the Nazi army. In November 17th 1939, the Nazi army retaliated and stormed all the student dormitories, sending more than 1000 students to concentration camps and executing 8 leaders of national and international student unions and 1 professor. Since 1941, this date is recognized as the International Students’ Day.

We have commemorated the International Students’ Day by once again joining forces and as also honoring effort of students, being the key to change in the past and present. We are working on establishing some technicalities. We will keep you al posted about the work of the Alliance!

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You can find the declaration here:

http://www.ifmsa.org/Media/Files/World-Health-Students-Alliance-Prague-Declaration

Press Release: http://www.ifmsa.org/Media-center/Press-Room/The-International-Students-Day-Marks-the-Inauguration-of-the-World-Health-Students-Alliance-WHSA#.VHB5kPmG-So

Entry written by Kornelija Macevičiūtė, IFMSA Liaison for Students’ Organizations 2014/15