Posted by: davidjolson | 11/29/2010

Climate finance and health: What’s the connection?

All this week, Jade Sasser, policy advisor for the Public Health Institute, will be guest blogging for Blog4GlobalHealth from the Cancun Climate Summit in Mexico. Her reports can also be seen at Dialogue4Health, the blog of PHI.

CANCUN, Mexico – Although many express skepticism about whether a binding international treaty will be produced at this year’s UN Framework Convention for Climate Change, also known as the Conference of Parties (COP 16), it will provide delegates here with an opportunity to try to hammer out progress on commitments made at previous COP meetings.

One such commitment is that of climate finance, and it is expected to be the single most important issue negotiated at the Cancun meetings. In the 2009 meetings in Copenhagen, leaders of a group of industrial nations pledged $30 billion in financial support to assist developing countries in adapting to a rapidly changing climate. This pledge was at the top of the agenda at Sunday’s strategy meeting of the international Climate Action Network (CAN), a network of over 400 global NGOs and regional NGO networks working to address climate change. What progress has been made toward meeting countries’ stated commitments? How will the fund be implemented? What infrastructure will be created to guarantee efficient delivery of funding mechanisms? What role do national-level politics play in ensuring that governments meet funding pledges?

In ensuing debates, what was left out of the conversation was a discussion of how international climate funding pledges can help countries and communities begin to adapt to the health impacts of climate change. Reducing the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases at a global level will help to slow changes in the distribution and spread of infectious diseases, like malaria; slow the advancing pace of food insecurity; and prevent the increasing threat posed by water insecurity and contamination. It would also have an impact on reducing heat-related deaths like those caused by this past summer’s heat waves in Russia and massive floods in Cancun.

The progress that will be made during this week’s COP 16 negotiations remains to be seen. Throughout the Conference, PHI will be working to promote awareness of the linkages between public health and climate change, foster collaborations across sectors, and the potential leadership role health workers can offer to country level adaptation efforts. Stay tuned for daily blog posts!

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