The first global knowledge platform dedicated to climate and health – climahealth.info – was launched today by the Joint Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with support from the Wellcome Trust. It is in response to growing calls for actionable information to protect people from the health risks of climate change and other environmental hazards.
Climate and health are inextricably linked. Climate change, extreme weather events and environmental degradation have fundamental impact on human health and well-being. More people than ever before are exposed to increased climate-related health risks, from poor water and air quality to infectious diseases and heat stress.
“Climate change is killing people right now,” said Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, coordinator of WHO’s climate change and health programme. “It is affecting the basics we need to survive – clean air, safe water, food and shelter – with the worst impacts being felt by the most vulnerable. Unmitigated climate change has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health. Reducing its impacts requires evidence-based policy backed by the best available science and tools.”
The use of tailored climate and environmental science and tools for public health, such as disease forecasting and heat health early warning systems, have enormous life-saving potential. These tools and resources can enhance our understanding of the connections between climate and health, help us reach at-risk populations, and anticipate and reduce impacts.
WHO and WMO have designed this new global open-access platform to become the go-to technical reference point for users of interdisciplinary health, environmental, and climate science. The site represents the public face of the WHO-WMO Joint Technical Programme, bringing together the expertise and science of both organizations..
“We often speak with public health practitioners who are concerned about the environmental impacts on health they are witnessing. But they lack access to training and tailored climate information needed to address these growing issues.” said Joy Shumake-Guillemot, who leads the WMO-WHO Climate and Health Joint Office. “On the other side, we have climate experts sitting on troves of research and resources that could be applied to support public health goals, but just aren’t reaching the right people.”
Tailoring climate information for use in the health sector requires strong partnerships and collaboration between the producers and users of climate information. ClimaHealth will help connect the health and climate communities, and support the acceleration of multidisciplinary research, national capacity and the use of evidence and decision tools by a wide range of audiences – from policymakers to community groups – to inform and advocate for action and investment.
“Collaboration between climate, health and technical specialists is crucial for helping us understand and tackle the health effects of climate change,” said Madeleine Thomson, Head of Climate Impacts and Adaptation for the Wellcome Trust. “But right now, experts can’t always partner and share information as effectively as we know they’d like to. We hope this portal will help fulfill the potential of different disciplines to work together on research and gain new insights into how climate change is affecting health around the world.”
Site users will be able to connect with global experts; find upcoming events, news, opportunities, technical resources and data, applied decision and learning tools, case studies, and curated guidance and research documents; explore country, hazard- and theme-focused entry points and a growing number of climate service provider profiles and resources.
This living platform will be enhanced with new content and dynamic features in the coming months and years, with a view towards expanding its offerings to meet the needs of users on all sides of the climate – environment – health interface.