This week has seen yet more frustratingly slow discussions on cutting down the ADP Negotiating Text, however, the IFMSA delegation has still been keeping up the pace by meeting with delegations from around the world to advocate for a stronger climate and health nexus within the text. Although it is hard to see the fruits of our work at this point, it is clear that there is a significant recognition that public health needs to be at the forefront of these climate negotiations. The question now is how do we use this to mobilise a strong coalition of countries that will provide a strong position on health in the Paris agreement later this year. Negotiators, like us, are frustrated at the lack of progress, but we have an opportunity to use health as a tool for more agreement and action.
Throughout the week we have also attended side events that have highlighted the intersections between climate change and health. From the urgency of addressing food and water scarcity to air pollution, occupational and community health surrounding fossil fuel extraction and rising infectious diseases in crops, livestock and people; public health provides a lense through which we can tackle these issues together.
However, this intersessional has highlighted the continued lack of speed or efficiency in achieving a final agreement. The process has been slow and we cannot wait upon these negotiations to ensure a sustainable future. Whilst we work hard within the UNFCCC, it is important to have a similar level of commitment to global and local community action to build resilience and bottom up solutions. We need a bigger, more inclusive, diverse and creative climate movement than never before. All of us have a role in driving political will which will force countries to fulfil national climate commitments. We can all partake in this process through educating, organising and empowering each other.
This is a critical year for climate action and the implications of inaction on our health and our future are unprecedented. The IFMSA will continue to be at the forefront of ensuring a legally binding and successful agreement that will protect and promote global health in the face of catastrophic climate change. However, our chances of achieving this equally depends upon a forward thinking global health community that not only acknowledges the links between our ecology and our health, but is also part of the structural change needed to ensure a healthy and sustainable future.
At this point, what is crucial is everyone’s contribution by helping your states recognize both the importance of a strong climate agreement and of the importance of health within the climate talks. This is certainly something that we hope IFMSA members will pursue in the coming months and years: by getting involved in local action, you can have a global impact that will last for years.
For more insight, we invite you to watch this short video update from three members of the delegation:
Entry written by Eleanor Dow, Diogo Martins, Arthur Mello, Yassen Tcholakov and Michaela Franzen-Malmros.