Climate Action Network Briefing on Health and Climate Change

November 2023

Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.​​ Concern over health can bring communities together, overcoming cultural and political barriers. Health is a fundamental  resource regardless of age, gender, socio-economic, cultural, or ethnic background. Good health empowers us to engage in activities with energy, vitality, and resilience, allowing us to live fulfilling and productive lives. Poor health on the other hand, disrupts our lives, leading us to miss school and work. It prevents us from being fully involved with our family and community and reduces our quality of life, and touches every corner of society, as exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Often when we talk about wellbeing, health—both physical and mental—is what we have in mind. As a society, we are also coming to understand that human health is deeply intertwined with the health of our planet. It is impossible to have healthy people on a sick planet. Meanwhile, policies that protect and foster environmental health at both local and planetary scales are inherently good for people too.

Developing a health narrative to support and complement CAN’s core work areas and policy priorities can contribute to raising awareness of the human and tangible impacts of climate change, and the opportunities of climate action, as well as supporting human rights and equity framings at a time when the health impacts of climate change are accelerating rapidly. Health provides the explicit connection between the climate crisis and its impacts on those we love most. Health professionals are also seen as one of the most trusted messengers. In addition, increased emphasis is being placed on health and climate intersections in UNFCCC and other international policy processes, providing an opportunity to break down silos, through closer collaboration between the climate and health movements. 

This document summarizes the key links between climate change and health and maps how health relates to different themes in climate decision-making. It does not seek to identify specific recommendations, but rather  to point to solutions and principles for action. It has been drafted based on initial workshops with CAN membership held in the lead-up to COP27, and further developed based on contributions from the CAN Health Task Force and other members.

Download file: http://CAN-Health-Briefing-Paper_October-2023.docx-.pdf

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