Bridging the Health Adaptation Gap: insights from UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report 2018

11:15 Thursday 30 May

SP042

PA

 

Gerardo Sanchez Martinez (Denmark) 1; Henry Neufeldt (Denmark) 1; Peter Berry (Canada) 2; Cristina Linares (Spain) 3; Virginia Murray (United Kingdom) 4; Rohaida Ismail (United Kingdom) 4; Gueladio Cisse (Switzerland) 5; Ulisses Confalonieri (Brazil) 6; Julia Menezes (Brazil) 6; Kathryn Bowen (Australia) 7; Revati Phalkey (United Kingdom) 8

1 - Danish Technical University; 2 - Health Canada; 3 - Instituto de Salud Carlos III; 4 - Public Health England; 5 - Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute; 6 - Fundação Oswaldo Cruz; 7 - Australian National University; 8 - University of Nottingham

There is ample evidence that climate variability and change significantly enhance health burdens which are felt disproportionately by the vulnerable and poor. While largely preventable, in the absence of rapid and sustained efforts from local to global levels by health officials and partners in other sectors, these health burdens are projected to increase with climate change. In addition, climate change could result in an increase of more than 100 million people in extreme poverty, reversing past progress in development and exposing them to additional health risks.

In 2018, the UN Environment Adaptation Gap Report featured Health as a theme due to the growing threat of climate-related health impacts facing countries and particularly vulnerable populations even for a 2°C temperature rise that was, until recently, considered safe (IPCC, 2014; 2018). According to the World Health Organization, climate change is projected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050 (WHO, 2014). This contrasts with the limited amount of attention and funding allocated to adaptation for health. The purpose of the report is to shed more light on the adaptation gap and options to bridge this gap.

While protecting health and well-being is frequently highlighted as a central objective of national and international climate-relevant policies, evidence shows that progress has been made in reducing climate sensitive diseases and injuries, we are globally well below the required level of action in health adaptation. Current efforts to adequately protect the health of populations and communities from most climate-sensitive risks are clearly not sufficient, although there is great variability across and within countries and regions. Greater efforts are urgently needed. From a general health systems resilience perspective, key areas of action include: enhancing collaboration and coordination to protect health from climate change; harnessing health co-benefits of both mitigation and adaptation measures; and empowering the health sector to access national and international adaptation funding, among others. Beyond these system-wide activities, researchers and practitioners largely agree on specific recommendations for bridging the health adaptation gap in crucial areas like extreme weather events, infectious diseases and food insecurity. These were summarized into UN Environment’s 2018 Adaptation Gap Report, targeting climate negotiators at COP 24 and national climate change decision makers, and constituting the basis of this session.

Target audience

Researchers, adaptation practitioners, public health practitioners, and decision makers could be interested in this session, where we will provide a comprehensive overview of the latest evidence on climate impacts on health, state of prevention, projections and pragmatic ways forward. Leading experts in climate change and health will discuss current challenges, urgent needs in this area, research and knowledge gaps and wider implications for global climate adaptation governance.

Proposed format for the session

We propose a session with four short presentations of maximum 10 minutes; each one will be follow by 5 minutes of targeted clarification questions from the other presenters or the public. After the four presentations and short questions, the presenters will join a panel with an external moderator. The panel will discuss for about 20 minutes and then the audience will be included in the discussion. The total duration of the session should be around 1 hour 40 minutes.

Contributing Authors abstracts

1. Gerardo Sanchez Martinez, The UNEP DTU Partnership, Peter Berry, Health Canada, and Henry Neufeldt, The UNEP DTU Partnership will present an abstract on the state of the evidence regarding the climate resilience of health systems, as well as current efforts to increase it regionally and globally and needed additional work, including adaptation for the medium and long term.

2. Cristina Linares, Instituto de Salud Carlos III; Virginia Murray, Public Health England, and Rohaida Ismail, Public Health England will present an abstract on the state of the evidence regarding health impacts of climate-related extremes including emerging trends and spontaneous vs planned adaptation, as well as current efforts of prevention globally and needed additional work, including adaptation for the medium and long term.

3. Gueladio Cisse, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute; Ulisses Confalonieri, FIOCRUZ and Julia Menezes, FIOCRUZ will present an abstract on the state of the evidence regarding climate-sensitive infectious diseases (Waterborne, Foodborne and Vectorborne) including emerging trends, as well as current efforts of prevention globally and needed additional work, including adaptation for the medium and long term.

4. Kathryn Bowen, ANU College of Health and Medicine and Revati Phalkey, University of Nottingham Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences will present an abstract on the state of the evidence regarding climate-related food insecurity, malnutrition and stunting, as well as current efforts to address their causes and consequences globally and needed additional work, including adaptation for the medium and long term.