WHO-Civil Society Working Group to Advance Action on Climate and Health

The WHO-Civil Society Working Group for Action on Climate Change and Health aims to foster a strong and sustained health voice, informing decision-making on climate change nationally and internationally, and driving urgent action on climate change.

Working group members work individually and collaboratively to increase engagement of the health sector in climate change mitigation and adaptation. They tackle climate change through health care systems reform, research, peer education, advocacy, emergency response, and policy development. Members  Established in 2019 by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the group is co-chaired by the WHO Assistant Director-General for Healthier Populations, and the Executive Director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance.

Working Group Highlights

  • Climate change and health research: current trends, gaps and perspectives for the future – A report from the The Working Group Research subcommittee reviewing climate and health research published in the past 10 years, as an update of WHO’s 2009 research priorities paper
  • In the run up to COP26, the Working Group played key roles in drafting, garnering sign on, and publicizing the Healthy Climate Prescription letter, which was signed by over 600 organizations representing 46 million health workers, to highlight climate change as a health emergency and to call for urgent, ambitious and equitable climate action, and investment in resilient, low carbon health systems.
  • In 2021, the Working Group hosted Regional Consultations in each of the six WHO regions, inviting health professionals working to address causes and impacts of climate change, to connect with others in their field and region. Through the Regional Consultations the health community around the world provided input into the WHO special report to the UNFCCC, The Health Argument for Climate Action.
  • In May 2019, the Working Group was instrumental in delivering a Healthy Recovery letter to G20 leaders from organizations representing over 40 million health professionals.

 

Working Group Co-Chairs Working Group Member Organizations Working Group Alumni

 

Working Group Co-Chairs

World Health Organization

The United Nations Health Agency, active in 150 countries to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. WHO supports countries in building climate-resilient health systems and tracking national progress in protecting health from climate change. It also supports countries in assessing the health gains that would result from the implementation of the existing Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement, and the potential for larger gains from more ambitious climate action.

Geographic Reach: Global, with 194 Member States     @WHO

Key Climate and Health Initiatives

  • The COP26 Health Programme, launched in 2021 which includes: Building climate resilient health systems, Developing low carbon sustainable health systems, Adaptation Research for Health, The inclusion of health priorities in Nationally Determined Contributions, Raising the voice of health professionals as advocates for stronger ambition on climate change

Reports and Resources:

Global Climate and Health Alliance 

The Alliance is made up of health and development organisations from around the world united by a shared vision of an equitable, sustainable future. Our vision is a world in which the health impacts of climate change are kept to a minimum, and the health co-benefits of climate change mitigation are maximised.

Geographic Reach: Global, with ~100 member organizations    @GCHAlliance

Key Climate and Health Initiatives

  • Supporting health organizations to advocate for climate action at COP, and throughout the year, including providing workshops and trainings for health advocates
  • Hosting a yearly global Climate and Health Summit in parallel with the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties

Reports and Resources:

Working Group Members


AMREF Health Africa

Amref Health Africa is the leading African health NGO. Headquartered in Kenya, Amref’s mission is to increase sustainable health access to communities in Africa through solutions in human resources for health, health services delivery, and investments in health.

Geographic Reach: Africa   @AMREF_Worldwide

 

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

CAPE works to better human health by protecting the planet. We envision a Canada, and a world, that prioritizes the health of people and of the planet in society and policy.

Geographic Reach: Canada  @CAPE_ACME

Key Climate and Health Initiatives

  • Developing the regulations around coal fired power plants and gas-fired power plants that are part of the implementation of the coal phase-out.
  • Working to unify health voices to call on politicians to treat climate change as a health issue, and has now received support from all of Canada’s major physician and nurse’s associations for its Call to Action.

Reports and Resources:

Confederacion IberoAmericana de Medicina Familiar

The Ibero-American Confederation of Family Medicine (CIMF) is an international non-profit entity dedicated to the development of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care in the countries of Ibero-America.

Geographic Reach: CIMF is made up of 20 national societies specialized in Family Medicine, which are organized into 4 Subregions: Andean, Cone-South, Mesoamerica, and the Iberian Peninsula. @WoncaCIMF

Health and Environment Alliance

HEAL works with Global organisations like UNFCCC, UNEP and WHO, with European and national decision-makers as well as environmental organisations towards climate and energy policies putting human health at the centre of their priorities.
Geographic Reach: Europe, with some international membership @HealthandEnv

 

Indigenous Allied Health Australia

Indigenous Allied Health Australia is a national, member-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health organisation. IAHA leads sector workforce development and support, to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Geographic Reach: Australia @iaha_national

 

International Council of Nurses

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of more than 130 national nurses associations (NNAs), representing the more than 27 million nurses worldwide. As the global voice of nursing, ICN advances nursing, nurses and health through its policies, partnerships, advocacy, leadership development, networks, congresses and special projects.

Protecting the natural environment for the health & wellbeing of people is enshrined in the ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses. ICN supports the nursing profession to both mitigate climate change and to support people and communities around the world to adapt to its impacts. ICN advocates for leadership from nurses to take immediate action to build climate resilient health systems

Geographic Reach: Global   @ICNurses

Key Climate and Health Initiatives

International Federation of Medical Students Associations

The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) is a non governmental organization representing associations of medical students.   This video gives a brief overview of the organization.

Geographic Reach: Global, with 136 National Member Organizations from 128 countries across six continents, representing 1.3 millions medical students.  @IFMSA

Key Climate and Health Initiatives

  • IFMSA began a Small Working Group on Climate Change Medical Education Framework to create an education framework that guides the inclusion of climate change and health into medical curricula and educational activities of the students and support the achievement of IFMSA Climate Vision. In addition, the Working Group is working to create an Assessment Scorecard for medical students to score their medical universities in terms of climate change and health education.
  • IFMSA developed a 3-day capacity building workshop on Advocacy to Policy-making (AtoP) on Climate Change and Health in Kigali, Rwanda to equip medical students with the skills and capabilities to urge their national governments for immediate climate action and meaningful youth participation in NDCs review processes.
  • IFMSA developed the Sustainable and Climate-Friendly Recommendations for our meetings attended by more than 1000 medical students and hence, we strongly work towards reducing our own carbon footprint in such meetings and evaluating our progress each year since August Meeting in Montreal in 2018.

International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network that reaches 150 million people in 192 National Societies through the work of over 13,7 million volunteers. Together, we act before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. We do so without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.

Geographic Reach: Global @IFRC 

Key Climate and Health Initiatives

  • The Faces of Climate Change Campaign declares the climate crises a humanitarian emergency and is asking volunteers to take action in their own lives to stop the climate crises

Reports and Resources

  • The Cost of Doing Nothing – presents an analysis showing that if no urgent action is taken now, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance annually due to the climate crisis could double by 2050. Similarly, financial costs could balloon to 20 billion US dollars per year. In contrast with this pessimistic scenario, the report also shows that, if appropriate climate adaptation measures are taken now, these figures could also stabilize, and even drop (2019)

International Pediatric Association

For over 100 years, the International Pediatric Association (IPA) has been the only global body representing the professional societies of pediatricians. IPA represents pediatricians from over 149 countries in over 164 member societies, enabling them to work together to improve the physical, mental and social and environmental health of all children. IPA represents over a million pediatricians improving the health of more than a billion children. The IPA works through its Environmental Health Strategic Advisory Group to educate and advocate for action on the climate crisis.

Geographic Reach: Global @ipaworldorg

Key Climate and Health Initiatives

  • Supporting pediatric societies to advocate for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including providing workshops and trainings for pediatricians
  • Working to unify pediatricians’ voices to call on leaders to treat the climate crisis as a child health crisis

Reports and Resources

International Society for Environmental Epidemiology – Asia Western Pacific Chapter

ISEE Asia and Western Pacific (AWPC) Chapter was first established in 2004 and promotes communication as well as facilitate capacity building for environmental epidemiology in Asian and Western Pacific countries.

Geographic Reach: Asia and the Western Pacific @iseeawpc

 

Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) translates to Doctors without Borders. We provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare. Our teams are made up of tens of thousands of health professionals, logistic and administrative staff – bound together by our charter. Our actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of impartiality, independence and neutrality. We are a non-profit, self-governed, member-based organisation.

Geographic Reach: Global @MSF

Key Climate and Health Initiatives

  • The MSF pledge to reduce the carbon emissions of its medical humanitarian projects by at least 50 per cent by 2030 to safeguard the future health of patients and communities / MSF s’engage à réduire d’au moins 50% les émissions de dioxyde de carbone dans ses projets humanitaires médicaux d’ici 2030 afin de préserver la santé future des patients et des communautés.

Reports and Resources

World Federation of Public Health Associations

The WFPHA is the umbrella group for 130 National Public Health Associations, with the following mission: Advocate for health equity and global policies to improve the health of populations through collaborating with groups or individuals who share our values, and strengthening global population health by developing and advancing public health practice, education, training and research worldwide.

The Environmental Health Working Group if the WFPHA takes the lead on matters involving the interrelationship between human health, their environment and planetary health. Advocate for health equity and global policies to improve the health of populations. Specifically we emphasise the Environmental Determinants of Health, raise awareness of the health risks due ecological degradation and climate change, and mobilise global environmental protection across all levels: international, national, local and domestic, political, legal and behavioural in order to protect and sustain human health.

Geographic Reach: Global @WFPHA_FMASP

 

Key Climate and Health Initiatives

Reports and Resources:

World Medical Association

The WMA is an umbrella global organisation composed of Constituent Membership (Independent national associations of physicians) from different countries in the world, as well as Associate Membership (individual physicians) with voting rights at the Annual Associate Members Meeting and the right to participate in the General Assembly through the chosen representatives of the Associate Members.

Geographic Reach: 112 constituent members representing millions of physicians worldwide @medwma

Key Climate and Health Initiatives

  • The International advocacy on divestment from fossil fuels
  • Capacity building for physicians to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare facilities

Working Group Alumni

International Federation of Environmental Health