Climate change and health: the tip of the iceberg?

Health, social and climate investment: what lies ahead?

 

Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Environmental Health and relentless global health leader and advocate of a holistic approach to human health and environment protection recently underscored that “food, access to water and housing are the three pillars underpinning human health”.

 

The grim prospect is that these pillars are vulnerable and could crumble down, prompting a three-pronged: investing in human health ought to be bolstered by social and environmental investments.

 

Recent news from the UN group of experts on climate change due to publish their report on the impact of global warming highlighted the dire consequences that are likely to affect populations’ health, with a staggering additional 80 million people suffering from hunger by 2050 as a combined result of severe droughts and soaring food prices.

 

A glimpse of granular data stemming from recent analyses of food market values enables to assess the scope of the drama that is unfolding: climate change is responsible for the global plummeting of cereal production with corn production dropping by 4% since 1981 while millet and sorghum dropped respectively by 15% and 20%!

 

Meanwhile, the price of food commodities and cereals increase steadily, triggered by the world’s demand for biofuels in particular. Coupled with shortage of drinking water which can affect nearly a third of human mankind by 2050 and a rise of vector-borne infectious tropical diseases such as Zika as well as pollution-related chronic diseases, the prospect drawn by the UN seems grim indeed.

 

The gloom extended to mainstream newspapers including in France where the shocking news made the headlines recently (click here to access an illustrative article).

 

At a time where health systems strive to adapt to the COVID-19 situation and fight to increase access to care for the vulnerable categories of the population, the congruence of the health, social and climate agendas matters more than ever.

 

The convergence of the social agenda and the climate agenda proved the fulcrum of the debates at the recent Coalition on Social Investment launched by Decide’s member organization the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) together with the French Agency for Development.

 

The latter was represented by Sylvie Leroy, Director of the Demographic and Social Transition Department under which authority the Health and Social Protection Unit is placed. A sign that more than ever, health, social investment and climate change are equally important policy priorities!

 

Interested in the United Nations' work on climate change: click here to access the UN Climate Reports.

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