The health sector is ranked as the fifth-highest contributor to net greenhouse gas emissions globally. To address this issue, the Asian Development Bank, in partnership with India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), held a Health Working Group for the G20 in Goa.
The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the importance of the country’s health sector being prepared to address climate change. Several side events were organized as part of this initiative.
Since 2016, the G20 has been focused on public health, but it is during India’s presidency that the group is for the first time emphasizing the relationship between climate and health, with a goal of promoting “health for all”.
The idea of aligning health sector development with the Paris Agreement has gained momentum among governments, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations since COP26 in 2021.
The World Health Organization (WHO) established the Alliance for Transformative Action for Climate and Health (ATACH) following the COP in Glasgow, and it now supports 63 countries, including 24 committed to net-zero health systems.
The G7 health ministers also announced last year their goal of creating climate-neutral health systems by 2050. India’s G20 Presidency is building on this momentum and advancing ongoing work for the health sector.
Global health sector addresses climate
Leaders in the health sector from Indonesia, Brazil, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and the US have stressed the critical importance of taking collective action to address climate change.
Given that the healthcare industry currently ranks as the fifth-largest global emitter of greenhouse gases, these nations emphasized the urgent need for healthcare leadership in climate action and expressed their full backing for decarbonization efforts within the healthcare sector.
As the health consequences of the climate crisis continue to escalate, ADB has reaffirmed its commitment to raising its climate finance goals to $100 billion by 2030.
At the G20 Health Working Group meeting’s side event titled “Addressing Climate Change and Health Challenges: One Earth, One Family, One Future,” Parshottam Rupala, the Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying, delivered the opening remarks.
The event was co-organized by the Asian Development Bank and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with the objective of aligning the development of the health sector with the Paris Agreement’s goals and constructing climate-neutral and resilient health systems through the One Health approach. Amitabh Kant, India’s G20
Global health leaders prioritize climate action
The Director General of the Asian Development Bank, Ramesh Subramaniam, responded to the health sector’s call for action on climate change by highlighting the critical need for countries to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, particularly since the healthcare industry ranks as the fifth-largest global emitter.
He expressed optimism that G20 leaders would take up this issue and stressed the importance of developing resilient health infrastructure that integrates mitigation and health preparedness.
Dr. Maria Neira, Acting Assistant Director of the World Health Organization, emphasized that climate action is a public health imperative and praised the Paris Agreement as a life-saving treaty.
During his address, Parshottam Rupala emphasized the importance of the “One Health” approach, which recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health.
He echoed the Indian Prime Minister’s message that humanity is part of the same universe regardless of geographic boundaries. Rupala and other leaders stressed the need for the health sector, including animal health, to reduce its carbon footprint and improve surveillance of animal-borne diseases to prevent health emergencies.
He emphasized the importance of strengthening animal health and implementing the One Health approach to prevent and control zoonotic diseases that can have significant impacts on animal welfare, economic productivity, and human health.
India’s leaders discuss climate, healthcare
During the event, Amitabh Kant, India’s G20 mentor, emphasized the interconnections between climate change, healthcare, and poverty.
He underlined that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how health and climate change are intertwined, with the Global South facing greater vulnerability to communicable diseases and resource constraints.
Kant also highlighted India’s significant advancements in healthcare and digital initiatives such as telemedicine and teleconsultation, which can offer sustainable solutions for climate-resilient healthcare models.
Rajesh K Singh, Union Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying, showcased the potential of India’s Animal Epidemic Preparedness Initiative in ensuring timely surveillance of zoonotic diseases.
Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health, Lav Agarwal, emphasized the need for a ‘one health’ approach to mitigate climate change’s effects and holistically address the linkages between climate change and health.
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