Developing islands get help to tackle health impacts of climate change

A new special initiative was launched at the UN climate change conference currently underway in Bonn to develop climate-resilient health systems for all Small Island Developing States by 2030.

The World Health Organization launched a special initiative to protect people living in Small Island Developing States from the health impacts of climate change. The initiative was announced on Sunday at the UN climate change conference (COP23) in collaboration with the UN Climate Change secretariat and in partnership with the Fijian presidency of COP23.

“We in Fiji know all too well that climate change poses a serious threat to the health of our people,” said Fijian Prime Minister and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama.

Small Island Developing States have long been recognized as especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, according to the WHO. For instance, extreme weather events can contaminate drinking water and spread infectious diseases.

“People living in Small Island Developing States are on the frontline of extreme weather events, rising sea levels and increased risk of infectious disease,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “We owe it to these people to do everything we can to help them prepare for the future that is already washing up on their shores.”

The vision is that all Small Island Developing States will have climate-resilient health systems by 2030. To accomplish this, efforts will have to be made on the ground itself to strengthen the voice of health leaders and promote policies that improve preparedness and prevention. The initiative will also focus on tripling the level of international financial support for climate and health.

Ultimately, countries around the world must reduce their carbon emissions in line with the targets of the Paris Agreement to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks.

“This initiative can strengthen the response of small islands to the rising risks as the world works to ensure that together we keep a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees C and better, no higher than 1.5 degrees,” added Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change.


Image credit: Chris Hoare via Flickr

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