MALAWI – The Government of Malawi with support from Amref Health Africa and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Offices in Africa and various partners have gathered various stakeholders for the Regional Summit on Health and Climate Change. 

The summit taking place at the BICC in Lilongwe seeks to pursue a unified African position on health and climate change negotiations. 

The event has brought together a distinguished assembly of state and non-state actors, experts, and leaders in the health and climate change sectors

Continental bigwigs in the fight for health equity and climate justice on the continent were represented by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), Palladium, and African Group of Negotiators. 

The summit will, run from the 22nd to the 24th of August and has received considerable support from the Wellcome Trust.

The main objective of the meeting is to identify a common agenda and position for Africa for sustained inclusion of health in the climate change narrative.  

Realizing how climate change affects the health sector, there has been a call for climate justice among the stakeholders.

The group of African negotiators on climate change is exploring investments in responsiveness and building resilience for better management of the direct and indirect impact of climate change on health. 

Appreciating the consequences of the lack of investments in health issues as an impact of climate change and how that resonates with the African continent. 

Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity today as it threatens the essential ingredients of good health

Speaking at the opening of the summit, Minister of Health, Honorable Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, stated, “There is a need to recognize the intersectionality of issues arising from the effects of climate change which does not leave out the health sector.”

Hon. Chiponda emphasized on the need for member states to build strong collaborative efforts and create strong actions as the effects of climate change are interlinked in all sectors- women’s rights, education, agriculture, and finance. 

She emphasized the need for all sectors, CSOs, development partners, communities, and umbrella bodies in Africa to build a strong united voice as Africa’s position and the importance of amplifying the youth’s voices for the sustainability of a better planet.

World Health Organization (WHO) representative, Ishmael Nyasulu stated that climate change was the single biggest health threat facing humanity today as it threatens the essential ingredients of good health and has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health.

“Having responded to multiple climate change health-related events, WHO is aware that without assistance to prepare and respond, weak health systems as is the case in most developing countries will be the least able to cope with effects of climate change on health,” Nyasulu added.

The WHO representative highlighted that WHO’s intention is to build on its strong involvement in climate and health globally and the global health organization’s commitment to support countries in implementing their pledges under the Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health (ATACH). 

AFIDEP’s Executive Director Dr. Eliya Zulu underscored the significance of tax justice specifically for financing health research, innovation, and integrated approaches that would inform a nexus programming to the effects of climate change. 

Dr. Zulu added, “That it is time Africa set its priorities and drove formal and informal discussions critical at this time when the continent has been hit hard by climate change as evidenced by Cyclone Freddy and other incidents in Malawi and other African countries.”

He reinforced the importance of building political momentum on the global climate change diplomacy and the UNFCCC negotiations to build evidence and arguments that will support Africa’s motion and agenda to reshape health preparedness and responsiveness to climate change effects.

A tie-in to next month’s first continental meeting on Climate Change in Kenya

Africa is preparing for a major conference in Kenya which will discuss the climate change challenges that face the continent.

The continent is responsible for just 3.9 percent of global CO2 emissions but faces a disproportionate impact of climate change caused largely by the industrial West.

Emissions from Africa have been falling steadily since 2006 and are less than half that of the European Union despite having almost twice the population.

Climate change experts and environment campaigners will join senior government officials in Nairobi for this year’s Africa Climate Week (ACW 2023) which begins on September 4.

The event will focus on how African countries can collaborate and find solutions to the problems that climate change is causing for the continent.

Kenya will also host the Africa Climate Summit which will take place alongside ACW 2023 and a pre-event, the 11th Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-XI) organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on September 1 and 2.

It is understood that the Africa Climate Summit will produce the ‘Nairobi Declaration on Green Growth and Climate Finance’ to drive action among African Union member states and partners leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) in November.

The regional summit on health and climate change in Malawi ahead of ACW 2023 is to discuss the effects of climate change on the healthcare systems of many of the continent’s countries.

Delegates at the Regional Summit on Health and Climate Change for the African Region called for African leaders to adopt a unified African position on tackling the negative effects of climate change on health sectors.

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, said recently that the continent will needs US$2.7 trillion until 2030 to address climate issues.

However, Africa receives only 3% of global climate money, with the lowest percentage ever coming from the private sector (14%). 

Adesina said immediate action was needed to help increase private sector participation in climate finance.

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