On the 12th of July, EPHA held a webinar to delve into the path forward in planetary health, climate justice and public health action. There is a clear need for proactive measures that prioritise global health equity in the face of the escalating vulnerability of approximately 3.3–3.6 billion people living in contexts highly susceptible to climate change.
Our goal was to bring a together a diverse panel of speakers to offer their perspectives on the pressing issues at hand and the opportunities and barriers they face at a local, national, and international level. Representatives from the WHO, ASPHER, and HSE Ireland provided an overview of the most recent scientific knowledge, existing actions, and points of entry to promote health when adapting and mitigating to climate change. Civil society representatives from the WHO European Region then focused on how climate changes are experienced and tackled in the Western Balkans, Caucasus, and Central Asia.
The discussion was guided around the question: What is your vision for how we should move forward in climate mitigation and adaption, while ensuring justice?
The key message conveyed in response was that there is an urgent need for collaborative action to guarantee a just transition, resilience, and support for vulnerable communities. It highlights the importance of a broad alliance to drive transformative change, improve climate literacy, and ensure the sustainability of health systems. In building upon this, we can start to bridge the gap between scientific research, ethical considerations, and effective strategies that prioritise planetary health and global health equity.
The WHO talked on the needs to protect vulnerable and marginalised groups and inspire action, through initiatives such as decarbonising the health system. ASPHER talked on the need for research, education and collaboration, especially in relation to training of health professionals. HSE Ireland gave a national outlook, and how national public health should respond through forward-thinking, justice-anchored policies. The civil society speakers gave a regional view of the effects of climate change being seen and predicted for their regions, as well as the local barriers, but also opportunities, that they see locally. Finally, students from Fergana, Uzbekistan gave an insight into how young people think the climate crisis should be tackled, which highlighted the need for youth inclusion, as well as the intergenerational justice issues that need to be considered while tackling climate change.
Finally, a discussion round highlighted further the need for collaboration and a justice-based approach, as well as how we can communicate about climate change to diverse audiences to increase buy-in for systems change, and ultimately, to protect global public health.
- Dr Cale Lawlor, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
- Dr Vladimir Kendrovski, World Health Organization
- Laurent Chambaud, The Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region
- Dr Ina Kelly, Health Service Executive Ireland
- Prof Stevan Savic, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
- Ana Berdzenishvili, Regional Environmental Centre for the Caucasus
- Khurshed Alimov, Youth Group for Protection of the Environment (YGPE), Khujand, Tajikistan
- Farrukhjon Abdurabiev, Young people, Fergana, Uzbekistan