22 November 2023 — As the health impacts of climate change mount across the Pacific, the World Health Organization (WHO) is standing behind climate champions as they advocate for urgent action needed to cut emissions and halt rising temperatures. WHO’s Pacific Technical Support Unit has launched a new toolkit ahead of COP28 containing arguments and resources that health leaders, health workers and ordinary citizens in Pacific Island countries can use to support their climate advocacy.
„All of us who live in the Pacific know that climate change is real – and we are already seeing its impacts in our daily lives,” said Dr Mark Jacobs, WHO Representative for the South Pacific and Director of Technical Support for the Pacific. „However, there are things we can do to address this crisis. Yes, we can make small changes like choosing to walk more often, leaving the car at home. But, most importantly, we can support people working in the most polluting sectors to make changes in their work. Because if they make changes, it will reduce global carbon „It will have a big impact on reducing emissions. Doing so will benefit everyone’s health.”
World leaders, scientists, United Nations (UN) agencies, non-governmental organizations and advocates are gathering in Dubai, United Arab Emirates next week for COP28, the UN climate change conference. From November 30 to December 12, participants will discuss climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Health impacts of climate change include death, illness and injury from extreme weather events, heat stress, water and food-borne diseases, malnutrition and negative mental health impacts of people facing disasters or fleeing their homes. Meanwhile, supercharged storms and rising sea levels threaten fragile health facilities at a time when they are most needed.
While those working in health have room to reduce their own emissions (the health sector is estimated to be responsible for 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions), the causes of negative health impacts of climate change are largely driven by choices. and the actions of government, business, and other parts of society. However, it also means that these sectors can play an important role in saving lives and protecting health. For example, by promoting sustainable forms of transport such as walking, cycling and green public transport, transport ministries can make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, if the global population were more physically active, it would go a long way to prevent 5 million deaths per year. Similarly, if electricity supply decision-makers switched to renewable sources such as wind and solar, it could significantly reduce air pollution – which causes 7 million deaths a year – and limit temperature rise.
„There are many win-win situations like this that require a lot of attention,” Dr. Jacobs continued. „And now, people are watching and asking what to do about the Pacific climate crisis. So let’s all of us in the Pacific use this as a moment to take action to save lives, protect our well-being and protect our planet for our children and grandchildren. .
Around the world, WHO is working to support health authorities to address the health impacts of climate change. At COP28, WHO and the Wellcome Trust will host the Health Pavilion, a hub for daily discussions on climate change and health. The organization will support the first dedicated Health Day on December 3, bringing together health and environment ministers. In the Pacific, WHO is supporting ministries of health to strengthen environmental sustainability and resilience of their health facilities, thanks to funding from partners including the Global Environment Facility, the Green Climate Fund and the Korea International Cooperation Agency.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations specialized agency for international public health. In the Pacific, WHO’s Pacific Technical Support Unit provides tailored, timely support to 21 Pacific Island countries and territories. Our head office is in Suva, Fiji, and the division has six offices across the region: Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Lauren O’Connor WHO’s Pacific Technical Support Unit for Communication, Resource Mobilization and External Relations Mobile: +679 777 9733 Email: [email protected]
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