02 Dec 2023
Over 123 Nations Back Climate Health Pledge At COP28
On Day 3 at COP28, one of the biggest deals that came through was when over 123 countries committed to signing the UAE’s health declaration, a day ahead of the first-ever health day at the UN climate conference. This declaration comes at a time when there is an urgent need for commitment to meet and […]

On Day 3 at COP28, one of the biggest deals that came through was when over 123 countries committed to signing the UAE’s health declaration, a day ahead of the first-ever health day at the UN climate conference. This declaration comes at a time when there is an urgent need for commitment to meet and collaborate on policies towards health systems. 

COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber in his keynote address at the session, ‘Putting health at the Center of the Climate Agenda’, stressed on how climate change is “increasingly becoming a health challenge”. He spoke about how  the two are “very much interconnected” and reiterated that the private sector “must find their way to finance climate health interventions.”

What Is Climate Health Pledge

In the following keynote, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus called it a “clear call to action”. The WHO estimates attribute seven million deaths to air pollution annually. Ghebreyesus added that good health is difficult to maintain “in a world full of more frequent and severe heatwaves, wildfires, floods and droughts; with increasing temperatures fueling the spread of infectious diseases, destroying harvests and increasing water scarcity.”

Apart from the countries who have already committed to the declaration, many more will sign up in the continuing days.  “The declaration seeks to increase cross-sector collaboration, reduce emissions in the health sector, and increase climate financing,” al-Jaber said, reiterating that the private sector “must find their way to finance climate health interventions.”

Also Read: PM Modi at COP28

Thanking the UAE for “putting health front and centre”, Ghebreyesus said the latest declaration builds on the momentum of previous summits and serves as a call to action and political commitment to climate and health. “Our addiction to oil, gas and coal is not just an act of environmental vandalism. From the health perspective, it’s an act of self-sabotage,” Ghebreyesus said.

Also at the event, al-Hashimy announced an aggregate $1 billion tranche of finance enabled by a series of commitments by the Green Climate Fund, the Asian Development Bank, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Rockefeller Foundation. The investments will go toward public health measures, building sustainable health systems, and solutions across sectors that simultaneously reduce carbon emissions and air pollution.

“We need to reassess and redefine our entire structure to tackle this concerning new connection. Over 40 partners, comprising climate financiers, global health financiers, development banks, nations, philanthropic organisations, and the private sector, have now supported these principles,” stated al-Hashimy.

COP28 marks a milestone: the inaugural inclusion of a health day within the UNFCCC climate conference. During a high-level ministerial meeting, on December 3, the focus will revolve around the effects of climate change on health, particularly emphasising heat waves, especially pertinent as 2023 is on track to be recorded as the hottest year in history.

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