Strategic Roundtable unites global health leaders to address climate change and health impacts

Health leaders and experts from around the globe came together for a Strategic Roundtable to address the critical intersection of climate change and health. The roundtable, convened in anticipation of COP29, and with the backdrop on the World Health Assembly, was hosted to bolster momentum and shape the global health architecture for tackling climate change.

Keynote speakers emphasized the urgency of the issue, underscoring the need for collaborative action to mitigate the health impacts of climate change.

Richard Horton, Editor in Chief of The Lancet, opened the meeting by emphasizing, “There can be no more excuses. We must keep fossil fuels in the ground, invest in renewable energy sources and protect nature and biodiversity. The climate crisis is a threat multiplier. It is time to hold those with power accountable for their promises and commitments.”

Climate action could save millions of lives each year and generate a return of over 4 US dollars for every dollar spent.

Dr Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, stated, “Climate-related humanitarian emergencies are increasing in scale, frequency and intensity.” He continued “The health gains from climate mitigation and adaptation outweigh the costs and are a compelling argument for stronger climate action. Climate action could save millions of lives each year and generate a return of over 4 US dollars for every dollar spent.” He also announced the Second WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, to be held in Cartagena, Colombia, from 25 to 27 March 2025.

Former United States of America Vice President Al Gore provided opening remarks via video encouraging participants to “act with urgency” with work to improve global health outcomes and called for health workers “to call for action, loudly and clearly. Action that transitions our world away from the unhealthy practice of burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible.”

Dr Teymur Musayev, Minister of Healthcare of the Republic of Azerbaijan and COP29 President, announced  key upcoming health related initiatives at COP29 and called for “the global community to act quickly and decisively to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Hon. Dr Atonio Lalabalavu, Minister of Health and Medical Services of the Republic of Fiji, addressed climate change and health justice in small island developing states (SIDS), stating, “Building resilience costs money and siloed funding approaches hinders our work. We support WHO’s actions and mobilization of finance.”

Adnan Z. Amin, Chief Executive Officer of COP 28, highlighted COP28 historical health outcomes.

Participants engaged in fruitful discussions aimed at outlining actionable initiatives and enhancing global coordination efforts.

H.E. Dr Filomena Gonçalves, Minister of Health of the Republic of Cabo Verde, highlighted climate justice, equity and health, and confirming, “We are deeply committed to addressing the health challenges caused by climate change.”   

Professor Celeste Saulo, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), has emphasized the critical role of climate services in improving public health outcomes. She highlighted, “Heat is the silent killer and taking the lives of half a million lives each year.” and said, “The cost of climate action now is so much cheaper than the cost of inaction.”

Looking ahead to future COPs, including COP29 in Azerbaijan and COP30 in Brazil, participants discussed strategies for advancing the global health agenda in the face of climate change challenges.

In a question-and-answer exchange of ideas and perspectives, representatives from various entities, including those championing the resolution at the World Health Assembly (WHA) from the Netherlands and Peru, as well as distinguished voices from the Global Fund, youth advocates, and prominent non-governmental organizations (NGOs), joined counterparts from the United Kingdom and key partners such as Germany, Brazil, and the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA).

This roundtable had particular significance, as the response to climate change is one of the six key strategic objectives of WHO’s Fourteenth General Programme of work for the period 2025–2028. It facilitated coordination and amplified calls for adequate funding to overcome the obstacles of fragmented funding mechanisms and siloed approaches, to address complex climate and health challenges more effectively.

The strategic roundtables spanned the overarching theme of the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly: All for health, health for all, and WHO Investment Round, allowing participants to reflect on the Organization’s achievements, current and future challenges facing global health.

Downloads

Climate change and health resolution I General Programme of Work GPW 14 – 2025-2028 

 

 

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