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Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand Runanga Whakapiki Ake i te Hauora o Aotearoa

New Zealand is walking the talk in the battle to tackle climate change with 18 health organisations as well as 60 businesses committing to decisive action on the issue.

On July 6 in a historic meeting for climate change and health, members of the leading health professional organisations, including the Health Promotion Forum of NZ, met with the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, to add their support for a strong Zero Carbon Act.

Attendees at the meeting of health organisations hosted by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons were united in their call for decisive action on climate change to protect and improve health and fairness for New Zealanders.

“There is a strong consensus among health professionals that New Zealand needs a robust law to get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr Rhys Jones, co-convenor of OraTaiao, the NZ Climate & Health Council.

“A Zero Carbon Act will need to set targets and action that are fast, fair, firm and founded on Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Three decades of sitting on our hands means we now need to face the reality that all sectors must play their part in responding to the climate crisis. We need to reach net zero for all our greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.”

Sione Tui’tahi, HPF’s Executive Director who attended the meeting said it was encouraging to see members in the health sector working together for our collective wellbeing.

The Zero Carbon Bill consultation ends on July 19.

The move by the business community to take action has been praised as “strong” and “unprecedented” by local and global organisations.

CEOs have formed the Climate Leaders Coalition, recognising the role that business can play in bringing about change and signing a joint statement, which commits their companies to action.

By signing the CEO Climate Change Statement, each of the business leaders has committed to measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions and working with suppliers to reduce emissions, with the aim of helping to keep global warming within 2C, as specified in the Paris Agreement.

Convenor of the coalition, Z Energy CEO, Mike Bennetts said: “I knew that many businesses were making progress with their own company’s response to climate change but that still left a gap around what we could be doing more of together to increase the pace and scale of impact from our collective efforts.

“So, it made sense to discuss those opportunities and commit to further action.”

The new group includes the leaders of Z, Westpac, Ngai Tahu Holdings, Vector, Air New Zealand, Spark and NZ Post.



Members of leading health organisations, including HPF, meeting with the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw to add their support for a strong Zero Carbon Act.



Ramping up action to combat climate change is essential if we are to help our Pacific Island neighbours says the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw.

Mr Shaw made the comment after The Declaration for Ambition on climate change was signed by the High Ambition Coalition group of countries, including New Zealand, recently.

 The declaration underscores the urgency for countries to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020 in line with the Paris Agreement; put in place long-term strategies to reach net zero emissions; and secure the support and investment to ensure effective implementation.

Mr Shaw says as the world works towards the next United Nations climate change conference in Poland later this year, it is important to join with other countries to push for effective climate action and implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“This is about protecting a stable climate for future generations of people in New Zealand and around the world, and helping our Pacific neighbours avoid the potential impacts of climate change and rising seas,” Mr Shaw says.

The Pacific Islands as a group may be the planet’s most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change, with some facing possible obliteration. The effects on families and communities can be devastating.

For most countries, a net zero target is widely seen as necessary to be consistent with promises made under the Paris climate treaty to limit global warming to well below 2C and ideally 1.5C, the level scientists agree is necessary to minimise climatic disruption and save low-lying island states.

According to Climate Action Network (CAN) The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5C, due to be released in October, is likely to confirm that limiting warming to 1.5C is feasible, but hard to achieve.

This makes it essential and urgent therefore for all countries to join these front-runners and step up to enhance their NDCs by 2020 states CAN.

Countries that signed the declaration promised to “lead from the front” on climate action.

They are Argentina, Britain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Spain and Sweden.

“We commit to exploring the possibilities for stepping up our own ambition, in light of the forthcoming IPCC Special Report on 1.5C, and in this context emphasise the importance of the Talanoa Dialogue at COP24,” the first line of the Declaration reads.

The Talanoa Dialogue which was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn in November 2017 and will run throughout 2018 is the Fijian presidency of the UN climate talks initiative to encourage countries and businesses to showcase their climate action.

Health threats from climate changes include: worsening illness and injury from heat and other extreme weather, changing patterns of infection including food poisoning, loss of seafood and farming livelihoods, food price rises and mass migration from the Pacific. Those on low incomes, Māori, Pacific people, children and older people will be hit first and hardest, but nobody will be immune to the widespread health and social threats of unchecked climate change. Direct and indirect climate change impacts are already being seen here from warming oceans and sea level rise.


The north coast of the Tongatapu group, Tonga and the lagoons are low lying and vulnerable to sea-level rise. Here the effects of coastal erosion at Lifuka in the Ha’apai group are evident. (Photo: Tonga: LiDAR factsheet)







January 2016:  Senior Health Promotion Strategist Karen Hicks contributed this post to the WHO’s This Week in Global Health


Health Promotion: An Effective Approach to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

~Written by: Karen Hicks, Senior Health Promotion Strategist & Lecturer, New Zealand (Contact:

In September 2015 the United Nations adopted seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) (Figure 1) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; which aims to end poverty, fight inequality, injustice, and tackle climate change. These SDGs are acknowledged as going beyond the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as they aim to address, ‘The root cause of poverty and a universal need for development that will work for all people’ (United Nations, 2015).



Figure 1. Sustainable Development Goals.


Each of the SDGs relate to health and wellbeing with aims, approaches and principles that are concomitant to the discipline of health promotion; a discipline that acknowledges the complexity of health and is based on the principles of human rights, equity and empowerment (Williams, 2011). Consequently, such principles imply that health promotion is an effective approach toward achieving the SDGs. This approach is supported by the global framework and described in “The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion” (WHO, 1986) (Figure 2) which identifies five key action areas: building healthy public policy, creating supportive environments, strengthening community actions, developing personal skills and reorientating health services through advocacy, enabling mediation for effective practice.


Figure 2. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion Logo. Source:


An example of a collaborative initiative that illustrates health promotion as defined in the Ottawa Charter is the International Network of Health Promoting Hospitals & Health Services (HPH). The initiative collaborates to reorient health care towards an active promotion of health, aiming to improve for patients, staff, and communities. Further detail on the approach can be accessed on the HPH website (

The principles and actions illustrated alongside the interdisciplinary approach of health promotion that empowers people and communities (Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand, 2014) and focuses on equity and the broader determinants of health (Davies 2013) is acknowledged by the World Health Organisation, “Health promotion programmes based on principles of engagement and empowerment offer real benefits. These include: creating better conditions for health, improving health literacy, supporting independent living and making the healthier choice the easier choice” (WHO 2013 p 16).  The value associated to the approach clarifies how health promotion can effectively contribute to achieving the seventeen SDGs where the SDGs can guide the delivery of effective health promotion to improve health, wellbeing and personal development throughout the global community.



Clinical Health Promotion Centre. The International Network of Health Promoting Hospitals & Services. Accessed 22/1/2016. Bispebjerg University Hospital Denmark.

Davies, J.K. 2013. Health Promotion: a Unique Discipline? Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand.

Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand. 2014.

United Nations. 2015.

Williams, C. 2011. Health promotion, human rights and equity. Keeping up to date. Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand.

World Health Organisation. 1986. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. WHO.

WHO (2013) Health 2020: a European policy framework and strategy for the 21st century Copenhagen, World Health Organisation


Read the blog at TWIGH




23 March 2016


Karen Hicks