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Climate Change Forum highlights nexus between climate and health
 

he nexus between public health and climate is a topic that resonates strongly with the UAE, according to Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, who was speaking at the Climate Change Forum taking place at the World Government Summit being held in Dubai from 10-12 February.

Speaking at a session titled ‘Leaders’ Roundtable: Climate Change and Public Health’, Dr. Al Zeyoudi said: "We are systematically assessing risks and identifying mitigation options at home, and ensuring that air quality, climate change and health risks are all addressed in an integrated manner. As the host of the global preparatory meeting for the UN 2019 Climate Summit, it’s my personal commitment to ensure that we raise awareness on this crucial nexus."

The minister said that the world has already started seeing the negative effects of climate change. "From hurricanes in the Caribbean to drought in the Sahel region, we are already seeing a severe and direct impact on the health of our partners from climate change, and we must scale up our collective efforts in addressing the increasing impact of climate change on health," Dr. Al Zeyoudi added.

Panelists at the session also included María Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, Ban Ki Moon, President of Global Green Growth Institute and former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr Maria Neira, Director of the World Health Organization, Gina McCarthy, Professor of the Practice of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Adnan Amin, Director General of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Laurent Fabius, President of the French Constitutional Council, Luis Alfonso de Alba, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for 2019 Climate Summit, Dr Hussain Al Rand, Assistant undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Health, Mario Cutajar, Cabinet Secretary and Principal Permanent Secretary of the Government of Malta, and Will Marshall, CEO of Planet Labs., the American private Earth imaging company that designs and manufactures Triple-CubeSat miniature satellites.

Ban Ki Moon said: "As the chair of Global Commission on Adaptation, I am pleased to inform you that the UAE is in discussion to become a partner in the commission. Given the facts included in the IPCC and WHO reports, climate change is the greatest threat to public health in the 21st century. Climate change and public heath are intimately and undeniably linked. We must work together to provide action-oriented recommendations to the Climate Summit taking place in September of this year."

For his part, President Laurent Fabius said: "In the fight against climate change, two domains have long been neglected: Security and health. And this comes as a shock as the facts are well known and the legal provisions are clear, in particularly the Paris Agreement. We have the tools to tackle climate change impacts, but we need to strengthen the finance dedicated to climate proofing public health. Current figures are not enough."

María Espinosa Garcés said: "Scientific data is becoming more dramatic. The world needs to scale up green finance, commit to capacity building, and employ technology in the fight against climate change."

Gina McCarthy said: "We need to communicate climate change differently. If we are to do what is necessary, we must get all countries engaged and get people in these countries to understand that their health is not a planetary problem, but a people problem. Climate change is one of the greatest threats to public health, but it also could be one of the biggest opportunities that we have to get public health to move forward. I believe that we have solutions to climate change, if we can broaden the uptake of these solutions across the world."

Dr Maria Neira said: "Implementing the Nationally Determined Contributions announced under the Paris Agreement will help save one million lives annually. In the 15 countries that emit the most greenhouse gas emissions, health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than 4% of their GDP. Actions to meet the Paris goals would cost around 1% of global GDP. Climate action does make economic sense.

Adnan Amin said: "The world can achieve 90% of the necessary energy-related CO2 emission reductions, under the Paris Agreement, through energy efficacy and renewable energy. A very decisive and targeted shift of investment is required to achieve climate objectives.

Luis Alfonso de Alba said: "The UN Climate Summit is a great opportunity to draw the global attention to the challenges posed by climate change. Adaptation efforts will be the focus at the summit, highlighting the great opportunities of development that climate action presents. We realize that there is an increasing political will among nations to join forces in the combat against climate change, under the leadership of the United Nations."

As part of the discussion, panelists identified the commitments that governments and other stakeholders must take at the UN Climate Summit, set to run in New York in September 2019, and in upcoming international processes to protect human health through climate action. The UAE will host the preparatory meeting for the UN Summit in June, where key initiatives and achievements will take shape prior to the Summit.

 

 
 
 
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