Registration is now open for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE)’s Climate Change, Health, and Nursing: A Call to Action conference, to be held June 12-13 at Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies in Washington, D.C. With the support of sponsors Climate for Health and the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, ANHE is honored to hold its first conference bringing together nurses from all over the country to discuss the role of nursing in addressing climate change.
ANHE is a collaboration of individual nurses and nursing organizations operating on a virtual platform to connect and engage nurses across the country on environmental health issues. The organization has a long history of working to address environmental issues that affect health, and has been most timely in working to amplify the nursing voice in discussions on climate change. ANHE believes that nurses are essential to addressing the climate crisis and bringing attention to the importance of public health as a climate action priority.
Consistently rated as one of the most trusted professionals over the past 15 years, nurses are in a unique position to bridge the gap between the science community and the public. They work in a variety of settings and are seeing the effects of climate change on health and the impacts of environmental health policy across all populations. Nurses are also trained in educating patients and communities and in responding to questions on health with credible, evidence-based information. As public awareness of the relationship between the environment and health increases, nurses need to be prepared to respond to concerns with sound evidence. Thus, ANHE has made creating climate-literate nurses, elevating climate as a priority issue among organizations, and advising the profession on how to lead on policy and practice change a focus of our climate change initiatives.
Start of Nursing Consortium and Partnership with Climate for Health
The idea of connecting nursing organizations around the issue of climate change and health stemmed from ANHE’s Climate and Health Roundtable, held on May 25, 2016 (below, right). At this event, the White House, in partnership with ANHE, hosted representatives from 16 national nursing associations to discuss the need to foster strategies to fight climate change to protect public health.
During discussions, participants determined there was a need for unification among nursing organizations in responding to the climate crisis. From this need, ANHE and Climate for Health formed a Nursing Consortium on Climate Change and Health, with the goal of bringing together nursing specialties and subspecialties to create a unified voice and a coordinated response to issues relating to climate change.
The upcoming June conference will provide an opportunity for nurses to learn more about what climate change means for health and how individuals nurses and organizations can come together to address this health crisis.
Speakers will include Gina McCarthy, former U.S. EPA Administrator and one of the leading champions in the fight against climate change during the Obama Administration; Dr. John Balbus, leader of the National Institute of Environmental Health Science’s efforts on climate change and health; Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director of the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown Law; and various nurse leaders working on climate change. Also featured are ecoAmerica president Bob Perkowitz and Doug Glancy of the Climate Reality Project, who will be debuting the health and climate communications portion of a new climate and health leadership training program for health professionals.
At the conference, nurses will learn about the health problems posed by climate change, how the current United States policy agenda effects action on climate, and strategies for action to prevent and respond to climate change. Nurses will also have the opportunity to participate in an advocacy training to learn how to communicate the health message as it relates to climate change. Participants will then be able to utilize these skills in meetings with legislators on the second day of the conference. Nurses can view the full list of speakers and event details, as well as register to attend the event, here.
To learn more about ANHE, visit their website. ANHE has put together a variety of educational materials for nurses on environmental health issues, including their latest report, Climate Change, Health, and Nursing: A Call to Action, which aims to introduce nurses to climate science and provide solutions for addressing the issue within their own practices. For more information about environmental health topics, consult ANHE’s eTextbook Environmental Health in Nursing.
Katie Huffling, RN, MS, CNM, is executive director of Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
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