COP28 Thematic Day Three: A Convergence of Climate Action, Public Health, and Global Peace
December 4, 2023
The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28, recently marked a significant moment in our collective journey towards a sustainable future. Dedicating its third day to Health and Relief, Recovery, and Peace, the conference brought to the fore the inextricable link between climate change, public health, and global stability.
Health Day at COP28: Bridging Climate and Health
The Health Day at COP28 opened with an array of panels and discussions centering around the impacts of climate change on global health. Experts from various fields provided insights into how changing climates alter disease patterns, exacerbate health risks, and challenge existing healthcare infrastructures. A standout session delved into the increasing prevalence of vector-borne diseases, linking rising temperatures to spreading ailments like malaria and dengue fever.
Climate change’s impact on mental health also received due attention, with speakers highlighting the psychological strain caused by climate-related disasters. Communities affected by wildfires, floods, and extreme weather events are experiencing a surge in mental health issues like anxiety and PTSD, underscoring the need for robust mental health support systems in the face of climate adversity.
The day also saw the introduction of innovative solutions and policies. A notable policy recommendation focused on integrating environmental and public health strategies at a national level, emphasizing the need for a cohesive approach to combat the health impacts of climate change. This session underscored the necessity of cross-sector collaboration, bringing together environmental scientists, public health experts, and policy-makers.
Key takeaways from COP28 Health Day
- More than 100 countries have signed a declaration on climate change and health.
- Climate change is a health crisis: Climate change poses a significant threat to human health, exacerbating existing health challenges and creating new ones. Rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and air pollution are just a few of the climate change-related factors contributing to increased rates of respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular diseases, and infectious diseases.
- Health systems are under strain: Climate change places immense pressure on health systems worldwide, particularly in developing countries. Overstretched resources, limited infrastructure, and a lack of skilled healthcare workers make it difficult for these countries to respond adequately to the health impacts of climate change.
- Urgent action is needed: The health community has called for urgent action to address climate change and protect human health. This includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, investing in climate-resilient health systems, and promoting equitable access to healthcare for all.
Specific initiatives discussed at COP28 Health Day
- Developing guidelines for climate-resilient health systems: The World Health Organization (WHO) is working on developing guidelines to assist countries in building climate-resilient health systems. These guidelines will provide practical recommendations for assessing climate risks, developing adaptation plans, and integrating climate considerations into health policies and programs.
- The establishment of a global health and climate commission: This proposed commission would bring together experts from various fields to develop strategies for addressing the health impacts of climate change and promoting health-positive climate action.
- Increased funding for climate change and health: Participants at COP28 emphasized the need for increased funding to support health systems adapting to climate change and mitigating its health impacts.
- Strengthening surveillance and early warning systems: Early detection and preparation are crucial for effectively responding to climate-related health threats. Enhancing surveillance and early warning systems can help communities and health systems prepare for and mitigate the health impacts of extreme weather events and other climate-related hazards.
- Promoting health-positive climate action: Integrating health considerations into climate policies and strategies is essential to ensure that climate action does not harm human health and contributes to improving health outcomes.
The health community continues to advocate for strong action to address climate change and protect human health. COP28 Health Day served as a reminder of the urgency of this issue and the importance of collaboration between governments, healthcare organizations, and individuals to safeguard global health in the face of a changing climate.
Relief, Recovery, and Peace Day: Addressing the Aftermath of Climate Change
Relief, Recovery, and Peace Day highlighted the complexity of relief efforts due to climate-induced disasters. One of the key sessions revolved around sustainable disaster management strategies, emphasising long-term planning over immediate relief. The discussion highlighted the importance of rebuilding communities with resilience to future climate challenges, thereby reducing the cycle of disaster and recovery.
Key takeaways from COP28 Relief, Recovery, and Peace Day
- Climate change exacerbates humanitarian crises: Climate change is a significant threat to global peace and stability, as it exacerbates existing humanitarian crises and triggers new conflicts. Extreme weather events, water scarcity, and food insecurity can lead to displacement, resource competition, and social unrest.
- Investing in resilience is crucial: Building resilience among vulnerable communities is essential to mitigate the impacts of climate change and prevent conflict. This includes investing in climate-resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable livelihoods, and strengthening social safety nets.
- International cooperation is essential: Addressing climate change’s humanitarian and security implications requires strong international cooperation. This includes supporting countries in building resilience, providing humanitarian assistance, and mediating conflict.
Specific initiatives discussed at COP28 Relief, Recovery, and Peace Day
- Establishment of a “Package of Solutions” for Relief, Recovery, and Peace: COP28 participants discussed the need for a comprehensive “Package of Solutions” to address the humanitarian, peace, and security implications of climate change. This package would include measures to strengthen resilience, provide humanitarian assistance, and promote conflict prevention.
- Increased funding for climate resilience and peacebuilding: Participants called for increased funding to support vulnerable communities in building resilience to climate change and addressing conflict risks. This funding could be directed towards disaster preparedness, climate-resilient infrastructure, and peacebuilding initiatives.
- Strengthening partnerships between governments, civil society, and international organizations: Collaboration among governments, civil society organizations, and international organizations is crucial to effectively address the humanitarian, peace, and security implications of climate change. COP28 participants emphasized the need to strengthen these partnerships.
The focus on Relief, Recovery, and Peace Day highlights the urgent need to address the humanitarian and security dimensions of climate change. By investing in resilience, fostering international cooperation, and strengthening partnerships, we can work towards a more resilient, peaceful, and just world in the face of a changing climate.
Side event – Reaching the Last Mile Fund (RLMF)
The Reaching the Last Mile Fund (RLMF) event at COP28 was a significant milestone in the ongoing global effort to eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The event brought together leaders from governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society to reaffirm their commitment to this important cause and to announce new pledges of support.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the RLMF event at COP28:
- Renewed commitment to NTD elimination: The event marked a renewed commitment from the global community to eliminate NTDs as a public health threat by 2030. Leaders worldwide reiterated their support for the RLMF and its mission to reach the most affected communities and deliver essential NTD interventions.
- Significant new pledges of support: The event saw several significant new pledges for the RLMF, including a $777 million pledge from the United Arab Emirates and a $200 million pledge from the United States. These pledges will provide critical funding to expand NTD interventions and accelerate progress towards elimination.
- Emphasis on innovation and collaboration: Participants in the event emphasized the importance of innovation and collaboration in the fight against NTDs. They called for developing new tools and technologies to improve NTD prevention, treatment, and surveillance, as well as for stronger partnerships between governments, NGOs, and the private sector.
- Recognition of the role of health systems: The event also recognized the critical role of health systems in NTD elimination. Participants discussed the need to strengthen health systems in developing countries to effectively deliver NTD interventions and ensure access to quality healthcare for all.
Overall, the RLMF event at COP28 was a positive and productive gathering that generated renewed momentum for the global effort to eliminate NTDs. The event’s outcomes, including the significant new pledges of support and the emphasis on innovation and collaboration, provide hope for a future free from these debilitating and preventable diseases.
COP28’s focus on health, relief, recovery, and peace has set a new precedent in our collective climate action journey. By recognizing the challenges and actively engaging in creating solutions, the conference has laid a foundation for a future where climate action, public health, and global stability are deeply interconnected.
As we move forward, the insights and commitments from COP28’s Health Day and Relief, Recovery, and Peace Day will be crucial in shaping our response to climate change. It’s a call for all of us to recognize these challenges and actively participate in the solution. The journey ahead is complex, but a more resilient and healthy world is within our reach with collaborative efforts and a commitment to integrated approaches.
As a senior partner specializing in global public health, I found the day’s discussions particularly resonant. The holistic approach to climate-related health issues, considering both environmental and healthcare policies, aligns with my perspective on the need for integrated strategies to combat the health impacts of climate change.
Looking Ahead: Day Four of COP28 – A Day of Financial Transformation and Inclusivity
As we progress through COP28, tomorrow promises to bring crucial discussions under Finance, Trade, Gender Equality, and Accountability. We’ll explore how finance and trade systems evolve to align with our climate goals, focusing on the need for large-scale changes, sustainable finance, and stronger carbon markets. This will include insights into harnessing private-sector finance and enhancing equity.
For the first time, COP28 will highlight the critical role of trade in climate-smart growth, delving into decarbonizing supply chains and fostering resilient transitions.
A special focus will be on Gender Equality Day, emphasizing gender-responsive policy-making and enhancing women’s and girls’ access to finance and participation in climate action. This aligns with the Just Transition’s goal of advancing gender equality.
Moreover, we’ll examine the mechanisms for ensuring accountability in the private sector’s climate commitments, highlighting the importance of transparency in turning pledges into reality.
Join me tomorrow for an in-depth daily report on these pivotal discussions and their implications for our global climate agenda.