The Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in Katowice, Poland from the 1st to the 14th of December 2018. The International Federation of Medical Students Associations had a delegation to represent its members and their opinion regarding Environment, Climate Change & Health. The delegation had 4 people per week. For the first week, the IFMSA delegates are: Mrs. Omnia El Omrani (IFMSA-Egypt), Mrs. Paulina Birula (IFMSA-Poland), Mrs. Sylvia Hartmann (BVMD Germany) and Mr. Tarek Ezzine (IFMSA Liaison Officer for Public Health Issues).
Before the start of the Conference of Parties in Katowice over 1000 young people from all over the world met for the 14th Conference of Youth (COY). Omnia El Omrani had the chance to represent IFMSA and also to discover many other health – and students’ organisations. By joining the COY14, she gained more insight into the structure of YOUNGO, the UNFCCC’s Youth Constituency that IFMSA is part of.
1. Participation at YOUNGO Policy Position:
IFMSA has been participating in the Health Working Group of YOUNGO that is the umbrella for youth organisations at the UNFCCC. The Working Group submitted input to YOUNGO’s Policy Position and facilitated its redaction. It aims to promote health integration within ambitious climate policies and develop mechanisms to implement them. This obviously demands a multidisciplinary approach to health impacts and co-benefits within climate adaptation, mitigation and education through a climate change healthcare curriculum. Finally, it highlights how fundamental it is for Health to be placed at the center of any negotiations on climate change.
2.Bilateral Meeting with the President of the 73rd United Nations’ General Assembly: Inclusion of health in an open dialogue:
Through YOUNGO Constituency, Youth were given the exceptional chance to attend a bilateral discussion with 73rd UN GA President María Fernanda where they addressed the role of her office in inclusion of health within NDCs of parties. She highlighted the importance of the upcoming UN 2019 Climate Summit for promotion of health impacts and co-benefits. She also added the current increase in the UN focus on health-related issues through the High-Level Meetings s on NCDs (2018) and UHC (2019).
The schedule of COPs being very rich and various, including Side-Events, Exhibits, Negotiations and many other formats of meetings, IFMSA’s delegation tried to cover as many events as possible and had the opportunity to take part of several important event. Every morning the delegation was simultaneously attending the meetings of YOUNGO (the Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) as well as the Global Climate Change & Health Alliance meetings. We also had the pleasure to meet with other partners including the European Youth Forum! This active participation aimed to connect with our partners and the umbrellas we have for this our advocacy in Environment, Climate Change & Health. This also allowed us to seize every opportunity that might occur. Fortunately, opportunities were not miss at this COP:
High-Level Meeting with the United Nations’ Secretary-General:
IFMSA had the honor to actively participate in a High-Level meeting with UN Secretary General António Guterres and be part of the intervention presented to his excellency by YOUNGO. He highlighted the importance of the UN 2019 Climate Summit and the importance of Youth tackling Climate Change issues.
- Special COP24 Health & Climate Change Report Launch COP24 witnessed the inspirational launch of COP 24 WHO Special Report Health & Climate Change, requested by the Presidency of Fiji, which included 7 final recommendations for climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as a climate-resilient health sector. We are very honored to announce that the report included details about IFMSA’s advocacy in Climate Change & Health as well as its Climate-Health 2020 Vision!
- WHO Side-Event for SDG3: 7 million unacceptable deaths, Special Health and Climate Change Report As part of the Panel of the Side-Event, Mr. Tarek Ezzine talked about IFMSA advocacy toward the Environment, Climate Change & Health; and shared the IFMSA 2020 Climate-Health Vision that received the interest and encouragement of numerous stakeholders.
- Climate Classroom @COP24 The Climate Classroom @COP24 is an innovative learning experience, designed for anyone interested in getting up to speed on selected climate change topics.
Together with WHO, IFMSA had the opportunity to hold an interactive lesson on the connection between climate change and heath. Pr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum (WHO Coordinator of the Climate Change & Health programme within the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health) and Tarek Ezzine (IFMSA Liaison Officer for Public Health Issues) taught the audience about the direct and indirect consequences of climate change and health, health benefits of climate-change mitigation as well as Health Students’ involvement, collaboration and advocacy toward this rising Public Health Issue.
- UNFCCC Youth and Generations Day On behalf of the Health Working Group of YOUNGO, Mrs. Omnia El Omrani gave a speech on the continuous efforts of IFMSA in the active promotion of health in COP negotiations at the opening panel of the Youth and Generation Day.
- High-Level Meeting with United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth IFMSA had the honor to actively participate in a High-Level meeting with UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake with YOUNGO. During the dialogue, IFMSA presented its stance regarding Meaningful Youth Participation and the importance of having more meaningful youth involvement within the UN System.
- IFMSA Youth Action “Climate = Health; Our Health is up to you” On Friday IFMSA, in collaboration with other representatives of organisations of the Global Climate & Health Alliance, hosted an action at the COP venue. They shouted out for slogans “This is going to take your breath away” and “Climate = Health – Our Health is up to you”. The action attracted a high number of people and media; and represented the importance of placing Health in the center of Climate Change negotiations.
- YOUNGO Press Conference The first week has been finalised with a press conference by YOUNGO. Mrs Sylvia Hartmann spoke on behalf of the Health Working Group in the conference and highlighted further focus on Health in the discussions, and called for further action on Climate Change mitigation and adaptation measures.
Stay tuned for the second week. IFMSA delegation will always surprise you.
Hugs from Katowice!