This weekend marks the conclusion of Climate Week 2017, which coincided with the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City. A project of the Climate Group, Climate Week exists to bring together leaders from “business, government and civil society in support of the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” While representatives of the current U.S. presidential administration continue to waiver on their responsibility to lessen the harmful impacts of a warming climate, leaders of other nations and concerned citizens and leaders from multiple sectors within our own nation are taking up the mantle of leadership on climate solutions.
Health professionals are also increasingly speaking out, sharing their expertise on the impacts of climate change for the public’s health. While Climate Week is not specifically health-focused, health professionals can take advantage of the lessons learned to highlight their expertise on the impacts of climate change on health and emphasize the importance of cross-sector collaboration with the leaders of cities, states, corporations, and NGOs who have been represented.
Reflecting the spirit of Climate Week, ecoAmerica is also working to bridge sector divides. This year’s American Climate Leadership Summit, to be held Oct. 25-26 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., will bring together over 300 leaders from the health, faith, local communities, higher education, and business communities to collaborate on best practices to activate popular engagement on climate solutions. Each year, ecoAmerica produces a report of recommendations based on discussions at the Summit for leaders to consider in their engagement efforts on climate change in the coming year. Below is a sample of last year’s recommendations and steps ecoAmerica and our Climate for Health partners are taking in order to “Take Up the Mantle” on solutions to climate change.
1. Bring climate change to the mainstream. Ensure all health professionals configure their work through a lens of climate solutions, environmental health, and sustainability.
Over the past year Climate for Health has expanded its partnerships and collaborations with health professionals representing a wide range of disciplines and constituencies, from pediatricians to nursing professionals. We are working with national health associations to integrate a climate and health focus into their messaging and daily practice in order to inspire and engage their members and ultimately the American public with whom they interact.
2. Increase climate and health literacy. Provide professional education on climate and health impacts, how best to engage others, specific actions to lead by example, and the health co-benefits of climate solutions.
Through webinars, trainings at conferences, and newly created resources, Climate for Health has enhanced institutional knowledge on the links between climate change and health. Reports and webinars, such as Let’s Talk Health and Climate: Communication Guidance for Health Professionals, and Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance provide cutting edge research and guidance for health professionals to refer to as they engage with and make a difference in their communities.
3. Make climate-related health impacts personal with storytelling and first-hand accounts. Create a multimedia public campaign sharing how healthcare providers are already confronting climate-related health issues, and how climate solutions have health benefits for patients.
Climate for Health is leading the way on amplifying the health professional voice on climate solutions. Through videos and other multi-media resources we are providing doctors, nurses, and public health practitioners who are committed to addressing climate change a venue to reach out to their colleagues and demonstrate and model climate leadership and engagement.
4. Coordinate leaders to develop collective action. Provide a forum for further development of the strategies identified above and support the pursuit of shared goals, collective action, and engagement within and across sectors.
Through engagement with health association leadership in our Climate for Health Leadership Circle, ecoAmerica is providing a forum for leaders to discuss and act on solutions that resonate with their membership and across health disciplines. Leadership Circle members come together on a quarterly basis to update each other on partner activites, discuss opportunities to enhance their collective impact, and provide recommendations for future climate action
5. Facilitate cross–sector collaboration. Provide structured opportunities for the health sector to explore strategic collaboration with ecoAmerica’s leaders and partners from other sectors.
The annual American Climate Leadership Summit provides the space for leaders to come together cross-sectorally to discuss climate solutions. This year’s agenda includes speakers from the health, faith, and communities sectors as well as forums for those in attendance to learn from each other's unique disciplinary perspective and cultivate next step solutions in the face of federal government inaction on climate policy. Please see here for information on registration and this year’s agenda.
The lessons of Climate Week 2017 and ecoAmerica's and our partners' efforts are clear. As leaders from across disciplines continue to step up and act on climate change, the pressure is now on world leaders to heed the message and work to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for all.