COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health

The World Health Organization(WHO) has released a special Report on Climate Change and Health propose a set of priority actions from the global health community to governments and policy makers, calling on them to act with urgency on the current climate and health crises today (11th October 2021). The report lists 10 recommendations for priority action and is available here.

Prior to the publication a public consultation was conducted by the WHO in which I provided feedback in individual capacity (acknowledged in WHO report) . The feedback revolved around the following themes(full submission available for download):

  1. need for developing global, regional and national agendas for climate crisis preparedness, support for more interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary collaboration,
  2. recognition of rights and dignity of health workforce in our path to climate resilience,
  3. greater recognition of the impact of climate change on non-communicable diseases and injuries, particularly chronic kidney disease, snakebite, and cardiovascular diseases needs priority attention.
  4. higher taxation of app-based food delivery business which has higher carbon footprint;
  5. stop promotion of vegetarian diets which amounts to cultural imperialism by suppression of food practices of minorities, tribal, Adivasi and Indigenous populations who are being being attacked for their traditional meat-based food practices by removing words like “eating less meat” & “largely plant-based diet”;
  6. ensure food security of vulnerable people by providing guarantee against price fluctuations through development of appropriate investment and legal mechanisms.

It is pleasing to note that the WHO has involved stakeholders meaningfully and inculcated feedback in letter and spirit. The removal of terms “eating less meat” is welcome, but more work needs to be done to prevent climate action being used as an opportunity for cultural imperialism. Continuing to work with stakeholders to understand the several issues better, as evidence evolves will be key to climate action. We have to grapple the defining issue of our generation together.

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