UAE – The World Health Organization, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust and partners, has begun hosting the Health Pavilion at the 2023 United Nations Climate Conference (COP28).
Organized by the World Health Organization, the COP28 Health Pavilion will be located in the Thematic Arena 2 in the Blue Zone of the Expo City Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
The COP28 Health Pavilion will showcase evidence, initiatives, and solutions to maximize the health benefits of tackling climate change across regions, sectors, and communities.
In a press conference, the WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said: “For the first time, the United Nations Climate Conference will include a day dedicated to health, with more than 50 health ministers attending from around the world.”
Dr. Margaret Harris further said that changing weather patterns, driven by human activity and the burning of fossil fuels, is contributing to record numbers of cholera outbreaks.
As a public health imperative, the WHO has called on leaders from government and industry to work together to phase out fossil fuels urgently, and accelerate the transition to clean energy.
“While the health sector is affected by climate change, it also contributes to it, with about 5% of global emissions. We must focus on decarbonising health systems to reduce that,” stated Dr. Margaret Harris.
Notably, the opening ceremony of the World Climate Action Summit at COP28 UAE saw the attendance of His Majesty The King Charles III.
King Charles challenged world leaders to take genuine transformational action to slow the spiral of greenhouse gas emissions during the opening session.
On climate-friendly health systems, Dr. Margaret Harris encouraged influential figures to continue strengthening the health workforce and disease surveillance systems, alongside scaling up vector control and access to safe water and sanitation.
She disclosed that the health sector is at the front line of the climate crisis but it receives just half of one percent of global climate financing.
For this reason, Dr. Harris urged governments and investors to redirect public funds into protecting and promoting planet health and human health.
On this finance matter, she said: “We ask for the international community to honour their pledge of US$100 billion for climate change annually.”
The UN Climate Conference kick off amidst the extension of the humanitarian pause in the conflict in Gaza and the release of hostages and prisoners by both sides.
As expected, Dr. Margaret Harris discussed the UN agency’s response to the health situation in Gaza and Israel and other effects of climate change on human health.
“The pause has enabled WHO to increase deliveries of medical supplies into the agency’s warehouse in Gaza, including IV fluids, medicines, lab supplies, medical disposables, and trauma and surgical supplies,” noted Dr. Margaret Harris.
It is important to highlight that the WHO called for expressions of interest in hosting side events at the Health Pavilion in the months leading to the long-anticipated climate summit.
Various side events at the COP28 Health Pavilion, led by the World Health Organization, begun on November 30, 2023, will be taking place until December 12, 2023.
In the course of the COP28 conference, the global health community and key cross-sector stakeholders are anticipated to come together under the common goal of ensuing health and equity are placed at the centre of climate negotiations.