The 2nd Lancet Commission on Climate Change and Health is out!

The new report of the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change released its second report (following the one released in 2009) entitled “Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health”. It is fully and available for free online: http://www.thelancet.com/commissions/climate-change-2015.

This report goes one step further from usual scientific publications, not only does it summarized the science behind climate change and health issues and the consequences already being felt today but it also emits a number of policy recommendations to be taken up in the discussions leading to the upcoming global climate agreement that is expected to be adopted this December 2015 at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris.

Those recommendations are nicely illustrated by the Global Climate Health Alliance, of which IFMSA is a member of:

Key Recommendations

Most of the recommendations of the commission are what is called “no-regret” policies, i.e. policies that if uptaken do not represent a trade-off from investment of resources in another sector since the health benefits by themselves justify their implementation, and their contributions to climate change only being added benefit.

For those advocates among you, the commission also produced short and sweet briefs that are all bundled up and simplified in order to be directly used with specific groups and you can find those here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/public-policy/public-policy-briefings/LancetHealthClimate.

In short, reframing the climate change challenge as an opportunity the commission aims to foster further optimism among those who work in a field which is too often plagued by dark predictions of a difficult future. The commission highlights all that we can still do to overcome this challenge as a united humanity, working to also ensure that the most vulnerable are also protected from climate change and brought to a better state of living by action on climate change.

From an IFMSA perspective, the Federation will continue its advocacy and capacity building efforts in the field of climate change and health. Some interesting activities and initiatives are coming up, such as:

  • a 3-day workshop during the pre-General Assembly August Meeting 2015, taking place in Ohrid, Macedonia;
  • the creation of a training manual on climate change and health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization. A call for collaborators has been sent out, and deadline to apply is July 8th. Details and Application Form are available here;
  • the preparations of the advocacy strategy for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) next December, which include in-between ADP sessions (read blog entries from previous delegations here). The objective is to ensure that health considerations are included in the final agreement.

A lot is coming up in the next few months, so make sure you stay updated!


Entry written by Yassen Tcholakov (IFMSA-Québec), Diogo Martins (IFMSA Liaison Officer to UNESCO), Arthur Mello (IFMSA Liaison Officer for Public Health) and Claudel P-Desrosiers (IFMSA Vice-President for External Affairs)

Advertisements

ADP2.9: Last Updates from the IFMSA Delegation

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. 

ADP2.9: Updates from the ADP 2.9 United Nations Climate Change Conference

E9DB56F88A85E749EDAED2FBC0A1D21D8CBA685162D2D60381pimgpsh_fullsize_distrEven with a very small delegation IFMSA didn’t give up to try to raise awareness about the relevance of addressing health in the Negotiation Text of the UNFCCC, a document that will be the basis of the so expected memorable agreement in December in Paris during the COP 21.

It’s been a hectic but very interesting week which has seen frustratingly slow progress on developing the ADP negotiating text, but more and more interest from delegates in the inclusion of health impacts and the co-benefits presented in our policy brief.

“An effective new universal Climate Change agreement must also be very much an effective Public Health agreement, and health ministers and practitioners need to speak up to make that clear as countries shape the final outcome, which will be concluded in Paris, in December.”  

This was the central message of a panel convened by WHO on creating country-specific profiles for Health and Climate Change, outlining the health risks associated with Climate Change and potential opportunities from action to address climate change. IFMSA was invited to join the panel and of course used this opportunity to call for more ambitious action to address Climate Change and warn parties of health not being sufficiently represented in negotiations. We lauded WHO’s efforts to correct this and additionally made sure to convey medical students’ willingness to assist with these efforts.

Yesterday IFMSA delegates attended the ADP capacity building session, which stimulated discussion on countries Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). This follows calls at the Lima COP for all countries to submit INCDs before Paris in order to strengthen and coordinate country driven mitigation action. Although there is no official template in how these INCDs are produced, young delegates hosted an informative event highlighting how they can be an opportunity for greater civil society and youth empowerment in taking control of our future. Countries have the flexibility to work with different sectors of society (including health!) to create more inclusive and effective mitigation strategies.

On Friday a meeting was arranged with the French Presidency of COP21, Mr Paul Watkinson, during which YOUNGO (representing a variety of youth NGOs) presented questions and proposals for the organisation of COP21 and the development of the Paris agreement. Mr Watkinson commented that IFMSA’s policy brief outlining the climate and health nexus was a clear and effective way to communicate the importance of health, and that he would use it in a presentation on health later that day. He also encouraged young people to submit contributions to the text and further confirmed that COP21 French Organizing Team  would promote greater opportunity for youth interventions and meaningful participation during COP21.

Considering different aspects of Climate Change and Health, initiatives such as the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition have during this past week presented extensive work regarding air pollution and its adverse health impacts. Further topics closely related to health, such as Human Rights and migration, have been discussed during several side events. In discussions regarding agriculture and food safety the health aspect has also been widely mentioned, although without concrete suggestions for its implementation into the Negotiating Text itself.

We have another week ahead of us and are keen to continue championing the importance of health in making a deal that will ensure a healthy sustainable future. On Thursday Mali ended the workstream asking “Are we really making a difference?” We have seen that the work of IFMSA certainly is.

For more information about the UNFCCC ADP 2.9 Session, visit: http://unfccc.int/meetings/bonn_jun_2015/meeting/8856.php