COP28 kicked off its thematic days with the topic of health.

Over 40 million professionals worldwide that work within the health sector, joined the UN’s World Health Organization, also known as WHO, and many civil society organisations to acknowledge a call to action that will increase the importance of health when considering the negative impacts of climate change.

 During recent years, the world has seen a significant rise in climate disasters, such as natural disasters (for example: floods, wildfires, droughts, storms, and heatwaves), health conditions including heat exhaustion, and cases of climate related diseases including malaria. Professionals are warning that this increase in climate related health risks is not only due to climate change and its rising temperatures, but also due to the inactivity of the world’s governments in preventing and combatting climate change’s impacts.

COP28

Health professionals are demanding that immediate changes are made to put health at the forefront of decision making. They have also called for these decisions to be bold and meaningful in order to make a real difference, as each decision will ultimately effect people’s health. Their demands call for:

  • A global transition to cleaner and more renewable energy

  • Increased resilience against climate change and its negative impacts

  • Support for vulnerable people, both individually and in communities

  • The phasing out of high greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels

Foreign Governments worldwide have been accused by the health sector of making excuses in order to create delays. COP28 has finally given these health professionals a platform to call for the urgent change we need to save the planet, its ecosystems, and the lives of the people living on it.

The Director-General of the UN’s World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is in attendance at COP28, has stated that:

 

“In the face of the urgent challenges posed by health and climate change,
health professionals stand united in every effort to improve health outcomes and
address the climate crises. This inspires us all to contribute to a healthier, more
resilient world for generations to come.”

One of the biggest calls to action these health professionals have demanded at COP28, is that the world’s governments deliver on the commitments they pledged to carry out under the Paris Agreement in 2015. These commitments included the reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels by transitioning to renewable energy sources, and the promise of a future that will be more sustainable, safer, fairer, and will provide people with the resources they need to be healthier.

Health professionals around the world are demanding that improvements in the health sector become a priority. They call for the health sector and its health systems to become low carbon and climate resilient. As the effects of climate change worsen our healthcare systems will become even more indispensable, as we rely more and more on our health services. This means that without these improvements, our health systems are inevitably going to become strained.

To do this the health sector is aware that financing needs to increase significantly. Currently, only 0.5% of the world’s climate financing goes into the health sector. For improvements to be made in this sector this percentage needs to rise. Increased finance will make sure that health systems have the resources in place to accommodate all those impacted by climate change.

COP28 has already seen the signing of a Declaration on Climate and Health which has been supported by a large number of health professionals worldwide, as well as over 120 countries.

For further information and up to date news on COP28 and its themes, please see our COP28 Focus homepage where you can access all of our guides, news, and reports from the event.