Summary of the conference
Foreword and welcome
While the world struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, the accelerating health crisis, induced by the climate emergency, requires our even more urgent attention. No community – much more so for a poor than a rich one – is immune from the health impacts of climate change. People around the world face increasing extremes of heat, food and water insecurity, and changing patterns of infectious and chronic diseases. Unless urgent action is taken, the health impact of the climate emergency will bring disruption, threaten lives and livelihoods and compromise the health systems we depend on.
The COVID-19 pandemic and climate emergency represent converging crises. At the same time, climate emergency and epidemiological changes share common drivers. It is imperative that these emergencies are addressed in a comprehensive manner, while acknowledging public health needs, inequalities and historic injustices.
The 2021 Be-cause health conference, ‘Climate Justice and Health Equity’, looked into the interlinkages between climate change and disease trends and underlying causes, with a focus on public health impacts in LMICs, and explored possibilities to mitigate and adapt to the pending emergency. It looked in detail to the pathways and interrelations through which the climate emergency may impact health outcomes.
During the conference, global health organisations and health workers discussed how to address the climate emergency in their health activities and programmes. Moreover, participants learned and exchanged information on how transformation could be enabled given that an urgent shift to a circular and socially just economic system, that respects the planetary boundaries, is required.
Participant contributions from their different fields of experience and disciplines took advantage of recent advances in climate sciences, technologies and services as well as lessons learnt from communities affected by extreme weather events and climate variations. The conference was a window of opportunity for the health sector to adjust its universal coverage strategies as climate emergencies affect vulnerable population groups most.