WHO workplan on climate change and health

Objectives and action

The climate change and health workplan aims to:

Advocacy and awareness raising

Objective 1

Raising awareness of the effects of climate change on health, in order to prompt action for public health measures. A better understanding of the risks and effects of climate change on health will motivate and facilitate both behavioural change and societal support for actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Improved awareness will help health-sector professionals to provide leadership in supporting rapid and comprehensive strategies for mitigation and adaptation that will both improve health and reduce vulnerability.


The Secretariat will undertake two actions, set out below.

Action 1.1 Development of tools, guidance, information and training packages to support awareness and advocacy campaigns to protect health from climate change at national and regional levels.

Action 1.2 Develop and run a global awareness-raising and advocacy campaign aiming to put health at the centre of the climate change mitigation and adaptation agenda at the international level.


Objective 2 - Engage in partnerships with other United Nations organizations and sectors other than the health sector at national, regional and international levels, in order to ensure that health protection and health promotion are central to climate change adaptation and mitigation policies

Partnerships will be sought at all levels. This requires the public health sector to play a stewardship role in fostering policy coherence across sectors, and to influence policies and actions that can benefit health.


The Secretariat will undertake three actions.

Action 2.1 Participate in the relevant mechanisms and coordination activities within the United Nations system.

Action 2.2 Exercise WHO stewardship role with other sectors and related United Nations organizations.

Action 2.3 Provide the health sector with information, tools and advice so it can actively participate in national, regional and international mechanisms.

Scientific evidence

Objective 3 - Promote and support the generation of scientific evidence

There are some important gaps in our knowledge, in particular about the current and potential future impacts of climate-related risks, the degree of population vulnerability, characteristics of vulnerable groups, the type of surveillance and alert and emergency management systems, the most useful indicators for monitoring and evaluation of the criteria for action, as well as the comparative effectiveness of different adaptation and mitigation policies for health promotion and protection.


The Secretariat will undertake seven actions.

Action 3.1 Assess the burden of disease attributable to climate change and project it to future years using existing and new approaches.

Action 3.2 Review and develop methodologies and guidelines on how to evaluate vulnerability to climate change-related health effects at local, national and regional levels.

Action 3.3 Develop a clearinghouse of existing health protection strategies in Member States and make the information widely available. Assess comparative effectiveness, including cost–effectiveness.

Action 3.4 Support and monitor research to improve public health knowledge on the health risks of climate change and on the most effective interventions to manage those risks.

Action 3.5 Assess the health impact of adaptation and mitigation policies in other sectors and identify the most effective actions which have the potential to benefit health.

Action 3.6 Identify and develop indicators to monitor climate change-related health outcomes within surveillance systems.

Action 3.7 Work with other relevant scientific organizations to develop a comprehensive international assessment of the economic costs associated with the health effects of climate change under different scenarios of adaptation and mitigation action and/or inaction. Provide Member States with means for conducting such assessments at the national level.

Health systems strengthening

Objective 4 - Strengthen health systems to cope with the health threats posed by climate

Health-system action to protect populations from the impacts of climate change will need to encompass public health interventions within the formal health sector, such as control of neglected tropical diseases and provision of primary health care, and actions to improve the environmental and social determinants of health, ranging from access to clean water and sanitation to enhancing the welfare of women. A common theme must be ensuring equity and giving priority to protecting the health security of particularly vulnerable groups.

In addition, there is a particular need to control and reduce health risks, and strengthen coordinated preparedness and response in respect of the health effects of acute emergencies and other crises that may be exacerbated by climate variability and change.


The Secretariat will undertake six actions.

Action 4.1 Provide technical support for building capacity to assess and monitor vulnerability to climate change-related health risks.

Action 4.2 Advocate for the strengthening of primary health care (including primary prevention) services to support capacity of local communities to become resilient to climate-related health risks.

Action 4.3 Mobilize and guide international support for the urgent strengthening and financing of public health systems at the national level.

Action 4.4 Support the preparation, implementation and evaluation of regional and national mitigation and adaptation plans requiring health-system action.

Action 4.5 Standardize and support the development of early warning systems related to the health consequences of climate change and climate variability.

Action 4.6 Support the assessment of the effectiveness of health emergency management measures in reducing the impact of extreme events on health with the development of appropriate evaluation methods and pilot studies.

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