As part of our climate change and health education work, Healthy Planet is part of the Sustainable Healthcare Education Network - a group of healthcare professionals and educators working to empower healthcare students to address climate change and sustainability in their working environments through sustainable healthcare education. The following is a guest post from the Network coordinators.
Are you concerned about climate change or the environmental footprint of our health service? Do you know what health professionals can do in their professional lives to address these issues?Do you think that your medical curriculum could teach you more about these topics? The Sustainable Healthcare Education network needs your help!
We are developing networks of students and staff in medical schools across the UK. Since 2009, we have developed and implemented teaching materials about health and the environment for medical students, carried out a national consultation on learning objectives for UK medical students and run workshops and training for educators across the UK.
We are looking for a student representative and student network members. Get in touch if you think this could be you! There is also an opportunity in September for five medical schools to join a programme to support the development of a Sustainable Healthcare Education team and new teaching. Any medical school that would like to attend must send at least one student and one staff representative and commit to follow up work (such as providing a teaching session, evaluating new teaching and engaging with the national network) during the academic year 2015-2016. If you would like your medical school to be involved, contact [email protected] to see if there are already staff reps at your school.
The 1st June marks the beginning of 2 weeks of UNFCCC negotiations held in Bonn, where Healthy Planet will be part of the IFMSA delegation focusing on ADP2.9 (Ad Hoc working group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action). Success in COP20 in Lima and ADP 2.8 means that health co-benefits now feature in the draft text, however, with a lot of cuts expected to be made in order to construct an appropriate text for Paris, there is still a lot of work in ensuring health remains a priority.
What is the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action….?
The ADP was set up at COP17 in Durban in 2011. It’s main mandate is to construct a protocol with legal force by 2015 which will be implemented by 2020. It is split into 2 main areas - workstream 1 and workstream 2. Workstream 1 is concerned with the architecture of the 2020 agreement - considering factors such as the legally binding nature and how emissions will be measured, reviewed and verified (MRVs). Workstream 2 looks at how to close the emissions gap, which is the current gap between scientific targets and countries emission reduction commitments (which is worryingly large!) Mitigation targets are currently defined using some more lovely acronyms - NAMA and MRV - with NAMA standing for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, which are emissions targets for developing countries and MRV for Measurable Reportable and Verifiable targets to ensure greater accountability for the higher emitters in the developed world.
The IFMSA delegation will be working with other organizations dealing with health and climate change including the WHO, YOUNGO and Healthcare without Harm to reinforce the message that climate change is both a health emergency and a tremendous opportunity to improve population health. We will be promoting our policy brief which outlines the main areas in the ADP text in which health impacts and health co-benefits should be reinforced.
ADP 2.9 comes at a time when the impacts of climate change are more stark than ever, and it is clear urgent action must be prioritized leading up to the implementation of a global agreement in 2020. The recent earthquake in Nepal, which killed over 8000 people, is one of very few earthquakes to be attributed to melting glaciers and changing weather patterns due to climate change disrupting the integrity of the Earth’s structure. Some of the worst droughts in history are currently being experienced in California, destroying agricultural livelihoods and threatening food and water security for millions of people. These impacts are only going to get worse, thus during these 2 weeks
With the World Health Assembly passing a resolution to cut fossil fuel use due to the public health impacts of air pollution, China rapidly transitioning to renewables due to devastating health impacts of air pollution and Barack Obama putting public health at the core of his climate change message in April, there is reason to hope that climate and health will feature more prominently than ever in the upcoming weeks in Bonn and continue building momentum in the lead up to Paris and beyond.