The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to renew their joint commitment towards tackling emerging climate change health issues.
The MoU would specifically, allow the two institutions to tackle public health challenges emerging from rising temperatures and to help countries boost the efficiency of their response to climate change.
The agreement formed part of UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) underway in Bonn, which started on November 6 and would close on November 17.
The MoU, would also ensure that countries with weak or inadequate health infrastructure receive support to protect human health and build climate resilience to respond to such threats.
The signing of the MoU recognizes that the protection and enhancement of health was an essential pillar of sustainable development, requiring the widest possible cooperation by all countries and other relevant stakeholders.
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, said: “I am delighted that our two institutions are evolving our relationship to both a higher and more action-oriented level. The Paris Climate Change Agreement needs all hands on deck if we are to ensure a healthy world and healthy citizens now and into the future.
“Many people experience climate change through the impacts on their health, from air pollution and heatwaves to the contamination of drinking water from extreme weather events-if together and with many partners we can realise the world’s climate goals we can also play our role in providing a major health boost to billions of people”, she said.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said: “Climate change is one of the most pressing public health threats of our time. The health of future generations everywhere depends on all of us working together to take concrete action today.”
The collaboration takes place at a time when climate change poses a significant threat to public health-extreme weather events and variable climate affect clean air, safe drinking water, food security and secure shelter-and could cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from heat stress, malnutrition, diarrhoea and malaria, between 2030 and 2050.
The MoU, would therefore, ensure that health was represented in the global climate change agenda, allowing both institutions to adopt a more integrated and inter-sectoral approach to improving global health and contributing to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
It would provide a joint framework for strategic collaboration between WHO and UNFCCC to support capacity building, particularly in the developing world, and help countries reduce health vulnerability to climate change by providing guidance on health risks from climate change and benefits from mitigation policies.
It would improve countries’ capacity to address health in National Climate Action Plans and National Adaptation Plans while supporting the integration of climate risks into WHO support to health policy and programmes, including; in environment health, health system strengthening, and disaster preparedness.
It would also be informing climate and health policy makers, practitioners, civil society and the wider public in communicating and preventing climate risks, tracking and reporting of the scale and nature of investments in protecting health from climate risks, and in development that both promotes health, reduces carbon emissions and increases resilience to climate change impacts.
It would again help in measuring the progress that countries were making in protecting health from climate change.
Organisation of COP23, being hosted by the Fiji Republic as the Chair, is supported by the German Government.
Delegates around the globe are hoping to ensure greater momentum for the Paris Agreement and to raise the level of ambition needed to address global warming at the two week event.