50 nations for climate-resilient systems
The government of Fiji, for example, is responding to the increase in cyclones, flash floods, and rising sea levels causing lack of drinking water due to saltwater intrusion, by building more climate-resilient health infrastructure, strengthening the health workforce, and providing health care facilities with sustainable energy services.
“The message from WHO and health professionals around the globe is clear: climate change is a huge health challenge and we need to act now. I’m really pleased to see so many countries prioritising this issue through the COP26 Health Programme and their level of ambition. Strong leadership from the health sector is vital to make sure we protect our populations from the impacts of climate change by enhancing the climate resilience of health systems, and by reducing emissions from the health sector,” said Wendy Morton, Minister for Europe and Americas, in the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
The country commitments come off the back of a WHO survey, launched this week, which shows that the majority of countries now include health in their national climate plans to the Paris Agreement, but that plans often still lack detailed health actions or support mechanisms.
“These government commitments exemplify the growing global health movement for climate action. Around the world doctors, nurses, hospitals, health systems and ministries of health are reducing their climate footprint, becoming more resilient and advocating for a just transition that puts health at the centre of a decarbonised civilisation,” said Josh Karliner, International Director of Program and Strategy of Health Care Without Harm.
In addition to the national commitments, 54 institutions from 21 countries representing more than 14,000 hospitals and health centres have joined the UNFCCC Race to Zero and committed to achieving net zero emissions. A record number of health leaders are participating at the COP26 UN climate conference, and more than 45 million health professionals, representing two thirds of the world’s health workforce, have signed a letter urging governments to take stronger action.