The World Health Organization kicked off its global high-level conference on Health and Climate Change this week in Geneva. What makes this conference particularly significant is the fact that while the WHO has been working on this agenda for the past 20 years, this is the first time it has led a conference with so many decision-makers involved.
The compelling state of scientific evidence – as documented in a separate chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment report – has lent a certain urgency to the climate change agenda in the health community. The audience for this conference included around 300 senior level participants from various WHO member countries, mostly from the health sector, including a number of ministers.
A picture can tell a thousand words but the stunning photos we usually associate with the Pacific Islands often overlook the reality for many who live there. Faced with natural hazards such as cyclones, droughts and earthquakes alongside geographical remoteness and isolation, Pacific Island countries, which make up over a third of small island developing states (SIDS), are some of the most vulnerable nations in the world.
Already this year the Pacific region has been hit by two major disasters; Tropical Cyclone Ian in Tonga in January, followed by flash flooding in Solomon Islands in April. Both disasters had devastating impacts on the economy and livelihoods of local communities. Situated within the cyclone belt and Pacific Ring of Fire, earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones are frequent. Around 41 tropical cyclones occur each year across the region as well as numerous earthquakes and floods.
From the melting snow of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics to the stifling heat of the Australian Open Tennis Championships in Melbourne, climate change is proving relentless.
So are we going to sit back and let it ravage our lives and love of sport? As a former member of the Polish National Olympic Team in cycling, I definitely hope not. Let’s unite the power of sport with the might of social media and face up to the world’s environmental enemy number one.
Fact – temperatures are rising
According to the World Bank, Earth could warm from its current global mean temperature of 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels to as high as 4°C by 2100.
What does that mean? More extreme heat waves, causing global health, socio-political and economic ramifications. The President of The World Bank is calling for action to hold warming below 2° C. The question is, what can we do?
An entry in a recent Action4Climate video competition, “Climate TV, City Climate” highlights some of the issues cities are facing and how green infrastructure solutions can help a city cope with increased heat and stormwater run-off.
Summer is almost over and the fall semester is about to begin for young economics students. But this semester could be the start of something much larger at University College London (UCL) and the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
These two schools are among the first to pilot a fundamentally new approach to the way economics is taught in higher education. Others including the University of Sydney, Sciences Po (Paris), and the University of Chile will follow in early 2015.
This new approach is based on the CORE project of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) at the Oxford Martin School, part of a global call for an overhaul of the economics curriculum commonly taught to undergraduates. True to its name, the CORE project has developed a new, interactive core curriculum—all delivered through an online virtual learning environment, and completely open to the public.
I am standing on the shore of Bến Tre Province in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. One of the first questions is, would I be able to stand here in a few months’ time?
If you look just a few hundred meters out to sea, that was cultivable land up to three years ago. In the last three years this village has lost half of its land. Sea incursion is just one of the complex challenges that the authorities and the people who live in the Mekong Delta have to juggle at the same time. So the Mekong Delta, the decisions that are made here are affected by the upstream decisions of hydroelectric planning, irrigation, and other freshwater use. By the time the water gets here, some of that freshwater which is needed is no longer available.
In the rarified atmosphere of Aspen, Colorado, last week, I attended the 11th American Renewable Energy Day Summit. Over the years, the event has grown into a fascinating brainstorming and networking event bringing U.S. domestic and international figures in the renewable energy business together – financiers, technology entrepreneurs, government officials, activists, and scientists from across the energy challenges and opportunities.
We talked about international climate negotiations and renewable energy progress in China and India, but the strongest focus was on the challenges and great potential for U.S. innovation and how to bring climate change and energy policy back from partisanship.
In September 2000, world leaders committed to the Millennium Development Goals.
Until then, few dared to imagine goals such as eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, universalizing access to education or reducing maternal mortality would be possible. Now, with 500 days left before the end of 2015, the MDGs are less a leap of imagination and more of a challenge that many leaders feel is within reach.