Youth for Climate Change

climate change iceland

Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland (Unsplash, 2019)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Omnia El Omrani, a 6th year medical student living in Ain Shams Faculty of Medicine in Cairo, Egypt. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Health is a human right.

According to WHO, 7 million premature deaths per year are caused by indoor and outdoor pollution. This is caused by the accelerating rates of burning fossil fuels, posing an existential threat to our health.

Living in an EMR country that acknowledged Climate Change with apathy left me unaware of the greatest global health threat of our century. Then, I witnessed Hurricane Irma hitting the beaches of Miami in 2017. I was displaced from my apartment, saw its terrible consequences on people’s health and quality of life through debilitating injuries, losing houses and damaging businesses. Since then, I’ve dedicated my efforts and time to advocate for Climate Change and Health and to actively contribute to its worldwide momentum as youth.

There’s a disappointing lack of progress in reducing emissions and building adaptive capacity. Not only does it threaten our very human lives, but it also puts the viability of our national health systems at a greater risk every day. Nevertheless, there are health co-benefits to many climate solutions such as; use of clean transportation and urban planning measures.

The world now has a global climate treaty, that will become a public health treaty as countries take action. It is known as; “The Paris Agreement” I believe that as youth, we are capable of taking leadership roles in our own countries to promote the solutions for climate change. We can spur public engagement, and hence drive political will and commitment at the highest level onto the implementation of their contributions to this agreement.

“We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. We have come here to let you know that change is coming.” Greta Thunberg’s words at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24). Greta is a 15-year-old exceptional climate activist who led a school strike every Friday to ask Sweden’s government and other countries to act against climate change. Mind-blown yet?

As global youth, we must address our concerns about the health impacts of climate change for present and future generations, and how it affects determinants of health – clean air, safe water, and shelter. Being part of the IFMSA delegation to COP24, I saw how we collaborated with many youth-led organizations and unanimously voiced our positions among political leaders to integrate health within negotiations. We also used different social media platforms to build the associations between health and climate change.

Moreover, we also advocated for integrating health and climate change into our healthcare curricula to pave the way for a climate-resilient society.

Finally, we are the generation that will endure the consequences of the policies adopted. Hence, it is our role to contribute to the global health agenda. We are also the unique link between member states and civil society. Through our bold and tenacious actions, we can truly seek climate justice.

About the author

Omnia ElOmrani is a 6th year medical student living in Ain Shams Faculty of Medicine in Cairo, Egypt, as well as a passionate global health advocate, currently holding the position of SCOPH Development Assistant in IFMSA. She has been working in SCOPH for 4 years and started as National Public Health Officer of IFMSA-Egypt, coordinating the Standing Committee on Public Health in Egypt and then in the Eastern-Mediterranean Region. Thus, her life goal is to pursue a career in global health policy and advocacy.

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