The climate crisis is the greatest health threat of the 21st century and threatens not only biodiversity but also our health. For a long time, this threat has remained abstract – partly because of the way we have been communicating and highlighting the severe impacts in distant regions – melting ice caps and polar bears are just too far away for us.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us once again that people act, when they realise that their health and that of their beloved ones is at risk. The health impacts of the climate crisis are already being felt on a local level, in Germany, in Europe and worldwide: we have witnessed increasing heat waves provoking heat-related deaths, tropical diseases are spreading and toxic blue-green algae, belonging to tropical waters, are now invading the warming waters of the North and Baltic Seas. Alarming developments, which can be tackled if we accept facts and face the reality of climate change which, as experts agree, is caused by human activities, but we have ways to intervene and reverse course.
At Gesunde Erde – Gesunde Menschen (Foundation Healthy Planet – Healthy People) we aim to communicate these risks by showing positive future scenarios of what can be achieved with the tools we have in our hands. Only if we preserve a healthy planet can we guarantee human health. People need positive examples that touch them, and encourage them to act for a better planet, so we make sure we communicate in ways which are solution-oriented, humorous, understandable, inspiring, and visionary.
Picture of GEGM CEO Kerstin Blum and founder Dr Eckart von Hirschhausen. Copyright Julian Engels.
We believe that climate protection equals health protection, and in our daily work we strive to explain how to keep both our planet and people healthy, following more sustainable living patterns and consumption modes. It is important to inspire people and win over existing influential networks, also outside the usual climate-protection arena. We address doctors and nurses, churches, public multipliers such as actors, athletes, musicians and NGOs. Explaining the links between climate change and health and working with these multipliers, our organization raises awareness and gathers supporters around the need to take action. One of our main objectives is for health professionals to spread the message that “climate protection is health protection”. We are a non-partisan organization, we believe in cooperation, in working across generations and always have a positive attitude. We work in cooperation with a wide range of organizations and partners, like Health for Future, Scientists for Future, Fridays for Future, Klima-Allianz, klimafakten.de, the World Health Summit, Mercator Stiftung, Wildlife Conservation Society and many more.
Since its launch in 2020, GEGM has focused on highlighting how climate change and health are closely interconnected (see our video podcast series) The organization has participated in a number of public events, like the Scientists for Future press conference, a web conference with Members of the European Parliament, a panel at the World Health Summit, a Foreign Office event and political background discussions with representatives of the various federal ministries or the German Bundestag.
GEGM cooperates with associations of health professionals to educate doctors and nurses at central professional events and via professional magazines, and to encourage them to get involved. GEGM’s founder Dr Eckart von Hirschhausen also gives online lectures mainly for medical students to educate them about health and climate change. He also represents the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as ambassador for Health of the Federal Ministry for Development and Cooperation and Ambassador for Biodiversity of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, as well as patron of the Hamburg Climate Week 2021 on “Healthy Earth – Healthy People”.
GCHA new member guest blog by Fernanda Wolff Metternich, Project Manager at Gesunde Erde – Gesunde Menschen.