A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change-the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, yet overlooked in climate negotiations?” IFMSA wonders from COP21 in Paris

Line Damsgaard, Denmark, and Benedetta Rossi, Italy

From left to right, Line Damsgaard from Denmark and Benedetta Rossi from Italy are medical students-members of IFMSA

This article was exclusively co-authored for the Sting by Line Damsgaard, Denmark and Benedetta Rossi, Italy, medical students present at the olympics of climate justice – the 21st Conference of the Parties, COP21.

Leading medical journal, The Lancet, has named climate change the “biggest global health threat of the 21st century”. All the while this cross cutting issue does not receive much attention. IFMSA has set out on a mission to inform negotiators, press, fellow youth representatives, and everyone else who will listen, how we will experience the link between health and climate change as future doctors. We will see many more heatwaves like the one that hit Europe in 2003, causing 70.000 deaths. We will see an increase in waterborne diseases due to floods, causing overflow of sewage systems. We will see mental health problems when people flee their home-countries due to extreme weather events. We might even see Malaria cases in Europe.

Talking about climate change and health does not have to be entirely negative, though. The Lancet also deemed that tackling climate change is the greatest opportunity for global health in the 21st century. Clean and renewable energy can drastically reduce the number of deaths due to air pollution. A switch to active transportation, like biking to work instead of driving, can promote healthy lifestyles and decrease cases of heart disease and diabetes.

Our work here, as young climate and health activists, has two main purposes; to educate on the link between climate change and health through actions, side events, webinars and articles, and to try and influence the negotiations, using health impacts to create a narrative, to be able to push for an ambitious long term goal of the agreement. We also advocate with countries, urging them to include health in the agreement. This process, apparently simple and easy, is actually a complex mechanism that involves many different actors, working with other Non-Governmental Organizations, such as the Health and Environment Alliance, World Medical Association, Global Climate Health Alliance; the WHO; the press and of course countries, known here as Parties. Before Conference of Parties (COP), we analyzed all the countries’ profiles and commitments, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC’s), to better understand which countries have an interest in health, trying to target these countries first. After three days of negotiations, things got heated as almost all references to health were removed from the draft agreement – this is when our diplomatic plans turned into activism, switching from emails to a “waiting-by-the-front-door-to-casually-bump-into-someone”-strategy. We have tried to reach as many countries as possible, including the countries of the EU, which we as the Europeans of the delegation were in charge of. Influencing them is hard work though, as much of the negotiating is done on their behalf by the EU negotiators.
As new drafts see the light of day we keep our fingers crossed for health to be included – however, this is not the breaking point for us. Most of all, we hope to see an ambitious agreement, and we will continue to advocate for countries to implement the agreement in a way that promotes good health for all.

About the authors

IFMSA logoThis article was exclusively written for the Sting by Line Damsgaard, Denmark, and Benedetta Rossi, Italy, both medical students present at the olympics of climate justice – the 21st Conference of the Parties, COP21. The tides are high and, coming in to the end phase of negotiations, everyone is fighting hard for their interests to be implemented in the agreement. They are there as medical students, representing the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), to highlight the links between climate change and health.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Primary Health Care: in a world of specializations

Novartis and Johnson & Johnson to deprive Europeans of their right to Health

Celebrities are helping the UK’s schoolchildren learn during lockdown

Ecuador: UN ‘stands ready’ to support talks, in bid to end political turmoil

Humanitarian aid: €7 million for disaster preparedness in Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region

Tragedy of Mediterranean deaths continues, as seven drown, 57 rescued: UN migration agency

Whale populations are slowly recovering – this is why

Rising landmine blast toll in Afghanistan highlights long-term care needs of survivors

Sweden’s forests have doubled in size over the last 100 years

Everyone’s ‘buy-in’ needed to restore peace in Kosovo, UN envoy tells Security Council

US pardons for accused war criminals, contrary to international law: UN rights office

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health

Infringements: Commission adapts its calculation methodology for financial sanctions

Medicines from the sky: how drones can save lives

Eurozone’s central bank leadership prepares for shoddier prospects

Escalation in Syria fighting cause for ‘great concern’ says UN chief, dozens more civilians dead or injured

Why ‘video call fatigue’ might be making you tired during lockdown – and how to beat it

If innovators can solve India’s problems, they can save the world. Here’s why

Fighting Terrorism Online: EU Internet Forum committed to an EU-wide Crisis Protocol

The world’s economy is only 9% circular. We must be bolder about saving resources

The sad plight of fledging doctors

G20 LIVE: “This was not an attack against France, this was an attack against the universal human values!”, EU President Juncker cries out from G20 in Antalya Turkey

Terrorism ‘spreading and destabilizing’ entire regions, Guterres warns States, at key Kenya conference

Hungary: Commission takes next step in the infringement procedure for non-provision of food in transit zones

UN sounds alarm as Venezuelan refugees and migrants passes three million mark

This wall of shoes is for the women killed by domestic violence

China is sending science students to live with rural farmers – and crop yields are skyrocketing

Corruption thwarts attempts to build a better world and ‘must be fought by all, for all’

Unemployment and exclusion brings EU cities to boiling point

Now doctors can manipulate genetics to modify babies, is it ethical?

To realise the full potential of AI, we must regulate it differently

Good Governance in developing modern quality infrastructure systems

Much more than a ‘lifeline’ for millions of households, remittances can spur global growth, says UN agency

COVID-19 has laid bare the cracks in long-term care. Here’s how to fix them

5 ways the digitisation of the global logistics industry can increase trade – and reduce poverty

Can cybersecurity offer value for money?

Junker for Commission President: What were the stakes in this affair

We know ethics should inform AI. But which ethics?

Mexico: Helping refugees go into business, a ‘win-win situation’, says UNHCR’s Grandi

Privatisation and public health: a question of Human Rights

Colombia’s former president says COVID-19 shows the importance of listening to indigenous peoples on how we treat the planet

How COVID-19 has changed what we search for online

End of plastic water bottles at European Parliament

Young activists share four ways to create a more inclusive world

How India’s globalized cities will change its future

‘Continuing absence’ of political solution to Israel-Palestine conflict ‘undermines and compounds’ UN efforts to end wholesale crisis

Protecting whistle-blowers: new EU-wide rules approved

EU and World Health Organisation team up to boost access to health services in developing countries

New legislation on transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment model in the food chain

Brexit update: Leave campaign leads race but undecided voters will determine the outcome of the EU referendum

These countries have the highest minimum wages

Main results of EU-Japan summit which took place on 25/04/2019 in Brussels

Nowhere is safe to hide in war-torn Yemen, say UN-appointed rights experts

Countries must make teaching profession more financially and intellectually attractive

How India is harnessing technology to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Changing the EU copyright law won’t bring us much closer to Digital Single Market

This city is planting a tree for every man, woman and child

Conflict and climate change challenge sustainable development effort: UN report

EU Leaders’ meeting in Sofia: Completing a trusted Digital Single Market for the benefit of all

WHO working to save lives following powerful earthquake in Albania

More Stings?

Advertising

Trackbacks

  1. […] also continued to inform and educate people on #climatehealth, publishing an article in the European Sting and taking part to webinar: Line and Sam participated in a webinar Ruta del Clima on climate change […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s