Today on Earth Day (April 22) we urge you to take action to protect our precious planet and demonstrate our support for environmental protection.
With the global climate crisis worsening each year, today’s theme ‘Restore Our Earth’ is even more significant and it’s imperative that we act NOW!!!
As the Secretary General of the UN António Guterres recently warned: “Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Nature always strikes back – and it is already doing so with growing force and fury.”
However, added Dr Guterres human action can help to solve it.
Human action is what Earth Day is all about – bringing millions of people from around the world together and giving an opportunity for all stakeholders to create awareness and work together on critical issues like global warming, pollution and the vanishing forest cover among others. Earth Day is one of the oldest and largest global movements when it comes to positive environmental change and is supported by 75,000 partners in over 190 countries.
HPF’s Executive Director, Sione Tu’itahi says health promoters have an integral role in this collaborative effort to fight the climate crisis.
“With evidence, ethics and social justice, health promoters – whether educators and policy analysts or Whanau Ora and community workers – they are making effective contributions to the wellbeing of the planet and humanity at all levels, from the local to the global,” says Mr Tu’itahi.
This year, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a host of environmental issues are being prioritized. Click HERE to view some of the digital events that will take centre stage.
A historic ruling based on a complaint
filed by a Pacific Islander in New Zealand has opened the door to
climate-change asylum claims.
The UN Human Rights Committee made the
landmark ruling based on the case of Ioane Teitota from the island of
Kiribati, which is threatened by rising sea levels.
The committee ruled that countries cannot
deport people who have sought asylum due to climate-related threats.
Teitota who lodged the complaint in 2015 after
being deported from New Zealand when his asylum application was
denied argued his right to life had been
violated, as rising sea levels and
other destructive effects of climate change had made his
He said he was forced to migrate from the island of Tarawa, to New Zealand, due to impacts such as a lack of freshwater due to saltwater intrusion, erosion of arable land, and associated violent land disputes which had resulted in numerous fatalities.
Health Promotion Forum of NZ’s Pacific Strategist,
Dr Viliami Puloka said HPF supported the ruling by the UN as a ‘human rights
Dr Puloka said most Pacific Islanders didn’t want to
leave their homes or countries, but if “it had to go down to the wire,” and
they were forced to leave because of the impacts of climate change, then the ruling
would provide support to their claims for relocation.
Dr Colin Tukuitonga, former
Director General of the Pacific Community agreed that for Pacific Islanders, or
anyone else, relocating or moving within their own country or to other
countries was a last resort
In his presentation at the 23rd IUHPE
World Health Promotion Conference, co-hosted by the Health Promotion Forum of
NZ in Rotorua, he said
climate change was now the most important threat to Pacific lives and
livelihoods and there was potential for an ‘ecological disaster”.
SPC, he said, had
first-hand experience with the stress involved in relocating and in the last
few years had been assisting the Fiji government to relocate villages up to
higher ground as a result of the climate crisis.
“Relocating communities might sound simple, but relocating
your village, leaving behind what you know is a big deal to the families …”
While the UN Committee determined
that Teitota’s right to life had not been violated
as sufficient protection measures had been implemented in Kiribati, UN
member Yuval Shany said: “Nevertheless, this ruling sets
forth new standards that could facilitate the success of future climate
change-related asylum claims”.
The Committee further clarified that people seeking
asylum are not required to prove that they would face immediate harm, if
deported back to their home countries.
Their rationale was that because climate-related
events can occur both suddenly – such as intense storms or
flooding – or over time through slow-onset processes such as sea
level rise and land degradation, either situation could spur people to seek
Additionally, Committee members underlined that the
international community must assist countries adversely affected by
judgment is not binding, it does emphasise that countries have a legal responsibility
to protect people whose lives are threatened by the climate crisis.
HPF’s Executive Director, Sione Tu’itahi joined a panel of speakers, who are passionate and committed to helping Pacific people combat climate change, at the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) Pacific Week Symposium on Environment and Sustainability at Auckland Hospital yesterday. (Monday, October 7).
Mr Tu’itahi whose speech was entitled Moana Ola, Fonua Ola, Healthy People, Healthy Environment discussed how
Pacific Indigenous knowledge could contribute to addressing the political,
socio-economic and ecological determinants of our health and wellbeing.
He looked at
the Pacific Conceptual Frameworks of Moana Ola and Fonua Ola, planetary wellbeing and indigenous knowledge and what we can do together to tackle the global challenges that humanity
Other speakers who are doing some
amazing work for Pacific Island communities were:
Phil Somerville, EatLessPlastic, CEO shared his research,
learnings and insights on plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean and environmental
impact on Pacific communities.
Mary Curnow, Director Fundraising and Business Development, Volunteer Service Abroad who spoke on “Volunteers, Climate Change & Health: Building capacity across the Pacific”.
Kevin Hague, CEO, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. addressed “Hope in the Face of Calamity: charting a positive course through climate change and the 6th mass extinction”.
The ADHB’s sustainability work extends
beyond the Auckland catchment working the Pacific Island health teams to help
prepare for climate change for the vulnerable communities in the Pacific
region. Pacific Island nations account for emitting less than 1% of
greenhouse gases but are among the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of
climate change, especially sea level rise.
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) Special Report highlights the urgency of prioritizing timely,
ambitious and coordinated action to address unprecedented and enduring changes
in the ocean and cryosphere.
The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, approved by the 195 IPCC member governments, reveals the benefits of ambitious and effective adaptation for sustainable development and, conversely, the escalating costs and risks of delayed action.
The ocean and the cryosphere – the frozen parts
of the planet – play a critical role for life on Earth. A total of 670 million
people in high mountain regions and 680 million people in low-lying coastal
zones depend directly on these systems. Four million people live permanently in
the Arctic region, and small island developing states are home to 65 million
Global warming has already reached 1°C above
the pre-industrial level, due to past and current greenhouse gas emissions.
There is overwhelming evidence that this is resulting in profound consequences
for ecosystems and people. The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less
productive. Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and
coastal extreme events are becoming more severe
The report provides new evidence for the
benefits of limiting global warming to the lowest possible level – in line with
the goal that governments set themselves in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Urgently reducing
greenhouse gas emissions limits the scale of ocean and cryosphere changes.
Ecosystems and the livelihoods that depend on them can be preserved.
“The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways – for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and wellbeing, for culture and identity.”
James Renwick, Victoria University of Wellington said over one billion people
depended on glacier ice for their water supply, and those communities would be
increasingly put at risk as the ice melts away.
of millions of people live in low-lying small island nations and millions more
live very close to sea level. Unless we take urgent action to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions, vast populations will be displaced by rising seas.
10cm of sea level rise triples the occurrence of coastal inundation. One metre
of sea level rise would threaten cities and communities all over the world,
including New Zealand. The economic costs would be measured in the tens of
billions here in New Zealand, and in the trillions worldwide.”
Christina Hulbe, School of Surveying, University of Otago said hanging over the
technical details in the report were two broad messages.
the climate change drumbeat isn’t in the distance, it’s here and it’s loud, and
second, the processes and impacts are highly interconnected. This means a
number of climate change consequences are locked in but it also means that some
of the most serious outcomes can still be avoided and, no matter what, the time
we have available to get ready for the inevitable changes depends on how hard
we keep pushing the climate system.”
The urgency expressed in the report is
reflected in the legacy documents released at the global health promotion
conference in Rotorua last April. While each statement focuses on certain
areas, they are primarily a call for action to secure planetary health and
sustainable development now and for the sake of future generations.
View the documents by clicking here and here. HPF asks that these documents be supported by being used, endorsed and disseminated to co-workers, colleagues and networks.
This year we’re
celebrating 50 years of Conservation Week (Te
Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa), a time to not only get
involved in activities at home or at the many events hosted across the country,
but to reflect on the country’s wildlife which is still in crisis.
With more than 4000 of our
native animals and plants threatened or at risk, it is imperative that we
continue, way after the week ends on September 22, to celebrate nature and look
at ways that we can best conserve it.
The week comes on the heels of the release of the two legacy documents from
the World Health Promotion conference in Rotorua last April to leaders and
organisations in the public health sector.
HPF’s Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi said the recent dissemination of
these documents, which highlight the urgent need to protect the wellbeing of
our planet and humanity, was timely in light of this week’s focus on
HPF’s Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi talks to Hauora about the outcomes, goals and lasting impact of the global Health Promotion Forum conference in Rotorua from April 7-11, 2019
Last April the Health Promotion Forum co-hosted the 23rd International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) World Conference on Health Promotion in Rotorua. With a timely theme of ‘Hauora: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All’, more than a 1000 delegates and organisations from 73 countries participated.
H: There has been very positive feedback about the conference. Are you happy with the results, and did you achieve the outcomes you set?
ST: Yes, I am happy to say we achieved our three major outcomes, and more. The knowledge that was exchanged was very relevant, crucial and very timely for the needs of health promotion, and the world today. Health promoters and other health workers, as well as those who work in sustainable development enhanced existing networks and formed new ones. And the legacy initiatives of two legacy statements, and initiating the process for a healthy city, were also achieved.
H: Let’s talk more about those outcomes in details. What is some of the relevant knowledge shared?
ST: Among other important features, at least three major areas emerged and moved closer together, offering comprehensive knowledge and practical tools for the delegates to take home and implement on addressing the health of the planet and its peoples. These were the social determinants of health with an equity and social justice approach, planetary health and ecological determinants with an eco-social approach and an inter-generational understanding and goal for health and wellbeing, and indigenous knowledge and health promotion with a clear philosophy and practice that humans are inseparable from the ecology. On another level, the spiritual dimension of wellbeing, and spiritual health promotion also came to the fore during the conference. It was great to see these major areas of health knowledge coming together, offering a profound understanding on planetary health, and relevant, practical tools.
significant was that the presenters in all these areas of knowledge were
complementary in their addresses, presenting a balanced, and comprehensive big
picture of where the health of the planet and its peoples are at, and the
comprehensive set of strategies to address those challenges at all levels.
H: What else was significant about the knowledge shared at the conference?
ST: Two other significant contents of the conference were the leading contributions of Maori research, policy, practice and leadership to Indigenous health promotion, and how pronounced climate change and ecological challenges are in our Pacific region. In fact, we decided to host the conference here in order for our New Zealand knowledge and experience to be shared with the world, and for the world to understand our greater Pacific region and its challenges, as well as our collective effort to address those challenges. For example, 20 years after introducing Te Pae Mahutonga as a health promotion model for New Zealand, Sir Mason Durie presented a new model, Matariki, at the conference for Indigenous peoples. Tuhoe Nation Leader Tamati Kruger shared the challenging but progressive and resilient journey of his tribe from the ravages of colonisation to mana motu hake/autonomy today. Delegates were in awe at such profound knowledge and courageous, moral leadership.
H: You mentioned some legacy initiatives. What are they?
ST: There were three legacy initiatives: two legacy statements, and Rotorua to become a healthy city under the WHO (World Health Organization) scheme of the same name. Led by two editorial teams, the conference delegates drafted and approved by acclamation the two statements on the final day. The first statement is the Rotorua Statement which summarises the important themes and knowledge that emerged from the conference, calling for action on those crucial areas for the health and wellbeing of the planet and its peoples. The second statement is the Waiora Indigenous Peoples Statement. It outlines the loss of Indigenous peoples under colonisation around the world, and calls for privileging indigenous knowledge as a right, and articulates how Indigenous health promotion can contribute to addressing the challenges on planetary health. On the healthy initiative, Rotorua’s mayor Steve Chadwick agreed to explore with us how Rotorua can become a ‘healthy city’ under the WHO’s scheme of the same name. Rotorua can be the model for other cities. All social, economic, cultural and ecological challenges, health included, are related, and cities are a manageable setting where these challenges can be addressed in a well-coordinated and effective way. The vision is for our cities to become healthy, liveable and sustainable.
H: So, it was not just a talkfest?
ST: No, certainly not. You can watch the videos of those keynote speakers on the IUHPE and HPF YouTube channels. Maori equity and social justice were articulated by the likes of Sir Michael Marmot and Fran Baum, indigenous health promotion was clearly embedded by the addresses by Sir Mason Durie, Tamati Kruger of Tuhoe Nation, Dame Anne Salmond, and Professor Anthony Capon. Professor Capon and Professor Trevor Hancock also highlighted planetary health, ecological determinants and the eco-social approach.
H: What lessons have you learned as a result of hosting the conference?
ST: Quite a few. One is that our nation’s founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, was very effective as a framework for negotiating the terms of the conference and for co-hosting it with the International Union for Health Promotion and Education. Using Te Tiriti enables us to work as equal partners, sharing our knowledge and experience, and achieving outcomes agreed on, such as the theme of the conference where we highlight Indigenous knowledge, having Te Reo Maori as one of the four languages of the conference.
This Statement from Indigenous participants in the 23 rd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion (Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand) is a call on the health promotion community and the wider global community to make space for and privilege Indigenous peoples’ voices and Indigenous knowledges in promoting planetary health and sustainable development for the benefit of all. It should be read alongside the Rotorua Statement from all participants in this Conference.
Indigenous peoples are diverse and our worldviews, which have developed over millennia of human experience, are specific to peoples and place. However, there are fundamental commonalities in these worldviews that have provided the basis for Indigenous peoples’ movements that draw us together around our shared interests. Core features of Indigenous worldviews are the interactive relationship between spiritual and material realms, intergenerational and collective orientations, that Mother Earth is a living being – a ‘person’ with whom we have special relationships that are a foundation for identity, and the interconnectedness and interdependence between all that exists, which locates humanity as part of Mother Earth’s ecosystems alongside our relations in the natural world.
Understanding our place in the natural world in relational ways leads us to consider how access to the natural environment shapes human health and wellbeing, the impacts of our activities on the environment, and our inalienable collective responsibilities of stewardship which will benefit future generations.
Within Indigenous worldviews our relationship with the natural world is characterised by reverence and values that include sustainability, guardianship and love. Planetary health is understood as the health and wellbeing of Mother Earth and of humanity as an inextricable part of natural ecosystems. It should also be noted that Indigenous languages are critical in articulating Indigenous worldviews as they enable the most full and accurate expression of Indigenous conceptualisations, and should be protected.
The forces of colonisation, capitalism and globalisation have caused massive environmental degradation, climate change, loss of biodiversity and the devastation of Indigenous communities. Further, they have led to intellectual imperialism and the widespread subjugation and exclusion of Indigenous worldviews, bodies of knowledge and voices.
Prevailing Western and other worldviews promote individualism and anthropocentric perspectives that to human peril separate humanity from the natural world. This has encouraged human activity that accelerates the depletion of planetary resources, the destruction of ecosystems, pollution, climate change and increase in the risk of ecological collapse.
Environmental degradation impacts disproportionately on Indigenous peoples because of close relationships with the natural world and our already marginalised circumstances in nation states. The silencing of Indigenous voices and the subjugation of Indigenous bodies of knowledge has been detrimental to all, most evident in our global environmental crisis.
Indigenous health promotion (as opposed to the generic form of health promotion which has largely Western origins) emerged in response to Indigenous peoples’ needs to make space for our own ways of seeing the world and as a vehicle to realise our aspirations to sustain future generations who are healthy, proud and confident as Indigenous peoples. It is an Indigenous-led endeavour with origins that stretch back in time to customary systems to maintain health and wellbeing that emphasised social and ecological connections. At the same time, Indigenous health promotion is open to knowledge generated from within other worldviews where there is alignment. Indigenous health promotion can be understood as the process of increasing Indigenous peoples’ control over the determinants of health and strengthening our identities as Indigenous peoples.
Ecological collapse is the greatest threat to human health and survival globally. Health promotion (policy, research, education and practice) needs to change to effectively respond to the challenges of the Anthropocene and bring intergenerational health equity into its systems and frameworks. Engaging with indigenous worldviews and bodies of knowledge provides opportunities to find solutions to this most pressing threat and ways forward to promote the health of Mother Earth and sustainable development.
We call on the health promotion community and the wider global community to make space for and privilege Indigenous peoples’ voices and Indigenous knowledge in taking action with us to promote the health of Mother Earth and sustainable development for the benefit of all.
This Statement represents the collective voice of the social movement members, researchers, practitioners and policymakers who participated in the 23rd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion, held in Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand in April 2019. It should be read alongside the Indigenous Peoples’ Statement for Planetary Health and Sustainable Development from this Conference.
The conference participants call on the global community to urgently act to promote planetary health and sustainable development for all, now and for the sake of future generations. Planetary health is the health of humanity and the natural systems of which we are part. 1 It builds on Indigenous peoples’ principles of holism and interconnectedness, strengthening public health and health promotion action on ecological and social determinants of health. It puts the wellbeing of people and the planet at the heart of decision-making, recognising that the economy, as a social construct, must be a supportive tool fit for this purpose in the 21 st century.
Waiora is an Indigenous concept of our host country, Aotearoa New Zealand, which expresses the interconnections between peoples’ health and the natural environment, and the imperative of sustainable development. 2 3 Waiora represents a call to work with Indigenous peoples to draw on Indigenous knowledge, and to share knowledge from our diverse cultural systems for the wellbeing of the planet and humanity. Sustainable development for all is a clear way to ensure environmental, social and health justice for the people of today and for future generations.
Urgent action is needed because mounting evidence tells us that the current economic and social development paradigm of infinite growth and endless exploitation of limited natural resources is unjust and unsustainable, leading to inequities within and among countries and across generations. In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the new development agenda “Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development”. 4 The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) integrate economic, social and environmental development around the themes of people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. In doing so, they provide an action plan for the global community.
They prioritise the fight against poverty and hunger while focusing on human rights for all, and the empowerment of women and girls as part of the push to achieve gender equality. The SDGs recognise that eradicating poverty and inequality, creating inclusive economic growth and preserving the planet are inextricably linked to each other and to population health. 5 Conference participants call for immediate action from the global community in four key areas.
Ensure health equity throughout the life course, within and among countries, and within and across generations. This requires: The development of all peoples as empowered lifelong learners and engaged contributors to individual health and the health of families, communities and the planet. Action and accountability to address the wide and enduring inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples, while ensuring the protection of cultural identity and customary ways of life. Tackling the structural factors that drive the inequitable distribution of power, money, and resources; improving daily living conditions especially of those most in need; and measuring and understanding the problem and assessing the impact of action as outlined by the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. 6 Prioritising intergenerational health equity in systems, frameworks and decision-making, as a central tenet of a planetary approach to health
Make all urban and other habitats inclusive, safe, resilient, sustainable and conducive to health and wellbeing for people and the planet. This requires: Renewing and strengthening our relationship with planetary ecosystems. Protection of the planet from degradation, including through sustainable production, management and consumption of natural resources so that the planet can support the needs of present and future generations. This requires taking, enabling and advocating for immediate action on climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Action to reduce disparities in the quality and quantity of resources available to communities as these disparities are at the root of inequities in health. Current threats will accentuate such disparities. These include threats to food and water supplies associated with climate change, depletion of both renewable and non-renewable resources, the degradation of the environment such as contamination of food chains and ecosystems, poor air quality and massive forced migrations. Greater cross-sectoral action to protect and improve the health of populations experiencing inequities, including those in the world’s fast- growing urban areas. Fostering of peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear, racism, violation and other violence. The realisation of the health co-benefits of sustainable ‘One Planet’ living.
3 Ensuring urban decision-makers apply a “health equity lens” to assess the risks and opportunities posed by policies and programmes and measure their effects. 7
Design and implement effective and fair climate change adaptation strategies. This includes: The development of new approaches to global, regional, national and local governance and stewardship that will equitably promote health and well- being and prevent and mitigate disastrous climate and environmental breakdown, particularly in Low and Middle-Income Countries. Repositioning Indigenous and traditional knowledge systems to be on an equal footing with science and other knowledge systems to promote health and well-being and prevent and mitigate disastrous climate change and environmental breakdown. Development of action-oriented policies and partnerships between health and other sectors to develop policies addressing health and climate.
Build collaborative, effective, accountable and inclusive governance, systems and processes at all levels to promote participation, peace, justice, respect of human rights and intergenerational health equity. This requires: Respect for and adherence to the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples as articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Effective global governance free from the domination of economic considerations and commercial interests. The promotion of participatory democracy, coherent policy-making and regulation in the public interest and to restrict conflict of interest.
Participants at the 23rd IUHPE World Conference in Rotorua also confirm the critical role and relevant expertise of the health promotion community in promoting human health, planetary health and sustainable development, including implementing the SDGs. Participants urge the health promotion community to provide leadership across our one planet.
Whitmee S, Haines A, Beyrer C, et al. Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health. The Lancet 2015;386(10007):1973-2028.
Durie M. An Indigenous Model of Health Promotion. 18th World Conference on Health Promotion and Health Education. Melbourne, 2004.
Durie M. An Indigenous model of health promotion. Health Promotion Journal of Australia 2004;15:181-85.
UN General Assembly. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. New York: United Nations 2015
World Health Organization. Health in 2015: from MDGs, millennium development goals to SDGs, sustainable development goals. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2015
Marmot M, Friel S, Bell R, et al. Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health. The Lancet 2008;372(9650):1661-69.
World Health Organization. Health as the pulse of the new urban agenda: United Nations conference on housing and sustainable urban development, Quito, October 2016. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2016.
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: email@example.com)
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:http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/previous/en/hpr_logo.jpg
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 (http://www.hphnet.org).
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. http://www.hphnet.org/ 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.http://www.hauora.co.nz/defining-health-promotion.html#sthash.5sStc8VF.dpuf.
United Nations. 2015. http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment.
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