As a Global Health nurse interested in improving health worldwide, I am guided in part by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and recognize that advancing all 17 of them contributes to the single goal of Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3) for all. Because SDG 13, Climate Action, is particularly linked to SDG 3, I was excited to register for the Climate for Health Ambassador Training offered at an upcoming nursing conference that I’d planned to attend. As advertised, the ambassador training prepared me with knowledge and tools for better climate advocacy. Since completing the training, my awareness of the impact of planetary health to human health has grown exponentially and confirmed my resolve to take action for climate change solutions. These are my top 3 climate action resolutions for 2022:
1. Keep learning. To stay informed of current news and research related to climate change, I subscribe to monthly newsletters and blogs and receive reminders for upcoming episodes of Let’s Talk Climate. As a Climate Ambassador, I also receive a weekly digest of important climate topics covered by news outlets across the country. This next year, I’ll add to my knowledge by listening to a podcast, watching a documentary, or reading a book on climate change.
2. Raise awareness. One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic has been that our global climate consciousness has increased. Most of us are ready to take action, but there’s still work to be done. As a nurse educator, I can share climate action tips and tools with my students and colleagues. The healthcare industry emits 10% of greenhouse gases. Nurses on the frontline can directly impact the carbon footprint of healthcare systems with simple interventions to improve linen efficiency and reduce waste. I am using these resources and talking points from Climate for Health to craft social media posts and engage with policymakers, friends and family to raise awareness of positive steps we can take to mitigate climate change.
3. Take action now. This past year, I learned more about my own carbon footprint by using one of these calculators. I’m now equipped with strategies to reduce my household emissions for the future, and encourage my neighbors and colleagues to do the same. One significant change for me, and another silver lining of the pandemic, is more opportunities to work from home. I plan to continue this post COVID. By working from home even a few days a week, I can reduce my weekly mileage and emissions related to transportation, the biggest contributor to climate pollution in the U.S. Not everyone can work remotely but everyone can work to reduce their own carbon footprint. The United Nations Act Now Campaign offers an action guide to encourage more climate friendly lifestyles. To date, 4633185 climate actions have been recorded on their downloadable app by individuals around the world. I am sharing these actions with my network, and with my elected officials so they know this matters to me.
For 2022, I hope you’ll join me in your own journey to protect our planet and protect our health. Andone more thing, I plan to be more deliberate in celebrating successes this year. For example, I emailed the authors of this article to let them know how impressed I was with their efforts. I look forward to celebrating with you at the end of this year.
Janice Hawkins, PhD, RN, CNS-BC, is a Clinical Associate Professor at Old Dominion University and a Sigma United Nations Liaison in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council in addition to being a Climate for Health Ambassador. Sigma partners with Climate for Health to promote climate engagement of healthcare professionals.
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