Health & Equity in a Green Economy
Event at the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health
19 October 2011 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Conclusions of the Rio meeting have contributed to WHO's policy and background notes for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP-17) in Durban, South Africa, 28 November to 10 December
This was a key conclusion of a high-level policy discussion on Health and Equity in a Green Economy at the World Conference on the Social Determinants of Health in Rio de Janeiro on 19 October. The event was co-sponsored by the Brazilian Ministry of Health, FIOCRUZ-Brazil and WHO, and opened with remarks by the Director-General of the Ministry of Health, South Africa, Dr Precious Matsoso.
"Both climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies can reduce diseases of poverty, and improve and protect the health of the most vulnerable," participants concluded. "Urgent action is needed to influence climate negotiations and climate finance to incorporate health-optimal policies more explicitly, and also recognize the key role that the health sector can play."
The event included expert presentations and a high-level roundtable discussion involving ministerial representatives, development agencies and audience-participants from countries as diverse as Spain, Senegal, South Africa, Brazil, India and Sudan.
Experts in transport, housing and health sector policies presented evidence about how well-designed, low-carbon actions in public transport networks, upgrades of slums and informal settlements, and improved energy and infrastructures for health care facilities could help address severe health inequalities, reduce vulnerability to climate change, and also lead to health gains. This was also highlighted by the main results from WHO's Health in a Green Economy analyses of IPCC proposed mitigation policies in different sectors of the economy.
High-level government representatives from Asia, Africa , Europe and the Americas described how their countries were planning and developing policies and information systems that contribute in an integrated manner to national health equity, development and climate objectives. Civil society, academia and think tanks also voiced their perspective. The opportunities for including health equity and poverty reduction dimensions in the climate negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were described by Dr Angela Baschieri, a representative of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID).
Dr. Romulo Paes de Sousa, Deputy Minister of the Brazilian Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger, asserted that based on Brazil's experience, integrated social, health and development policies can indeed yield great advances for health equity and poverty reduction as observed in the country over the past decade. Dr Guilherme Franco Netto from the Ministry of Health, Brazil outlined how the health sector plans for climate change can both contribute to mitigation and adaptation as well as to strengthen policy coherence across government, and the key role of strategic information linking health to climat policies and investments across sector.
In their conclusions at the session's close, participants also identified as series of "next steps" for action, including needs for:
* The 2011 UNFCC COP-17 negotiations in Durban as well as the 2012 Rio+20 conference to integrate health and health equity issues into policies and finance decisions for climate change adaptation and mitigation, emphasizing integrated approaches.
Development of a system to monitor and track progress on health outcomes of all interventions in climate mitigation and adaptation in various sectors (agriculture, energy, transport);
* Integration of health risks and co-benefits of climate mitigation/adaptation actions into protocols for all key UNFCCC finance and policy decisions
* Strengthening of the health sector's work with other sectors in identifying and promoting climate change policies with best results for health and health equity;
* Communications and awareness-raising among country policymakers, civil society and private sector stakeholders of the value of intersectoral collaboration on climate investments, in order to maximize the concrete benefits-to-costs of all sectoral actions taken.