IFMSA at COP16 – The first 2 days… Bring it ON!

So the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16) under the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) began yesterday, with four simultaneous tracks of negotiations working to come up with a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty on Climate Change, to safe-guard our current and future generations. We are optimistic that this round of discussions WILL yield a positive result, creating the groundwork for the future, if countries can agree to compromise. We have been following this process for years, and have made some amazing progress for public health and the youth. Here in Cancun, we’ll be tracking the negotiations, building the capacity of the youth, and arguing for negotiators to re-frame the current discussions with a focus on a Health and Human Rights framework.

As for the negotiations – they are off to an interesting start. There are disagreements over whether there should be one or two tracks for negotiations (the Kyoto Protocol and a “New Track”), and how we should finance our actions on Climate Change. Currently, funding is channelled through the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), which is the environmental branch of the World Bank. So what’s the problem here?

  1. World Bank actions are decided by the countries who contribute the most money – basically, it is $1 = 1 vote. This undermines the process of the UNFCCC and is not fair on low income countries.
  2. We’ve also got to remember that they STILL mostly fund oil-intensive development programs instead of sustainable development programs. How ridiculous is that!?

However, most ridiculous of all! Amongst all of the commotion, the politics, and the economics, everyone seems to have forgotten why we’re all here – To safeguard the right of ‘Health for All’. Everyone is talking about how much it will cost, or whether or not we should even do something about it, but no one’s talking about the “greatest global health threat of the 21st century”.

Basically, something’s got to change…. So what are we doing about it!?

  1. “Health Day” – December 6th – to be run in conjunction with the IFMSA, the WHO, Healthcare Without Harm (HCWH) and the Health Environment Alliance (HEAL).
  2. Moving Health in to the negotiations – Our team will be moving through the conference, gathering opinions on climate change and public health (the impacts, and the co-benefits to mitigation) from key negotiators, and imploring them to push it into the discussions
  3. Young Friends of Public Health – an initiative jointly hosted by the IFMSA and the WHO, looking to gather support from Youth Civil Society, raising awareness and placing pressure on the negotiations.
  4. Article 6 – The IFMSA presented a successful submission to the secretariat in August on Article 6 of the convention (“Training, Education and Public Awareness”, something the IFMSA knows very well), and we are following this up here in Cancun – pushing it hard. We will be working with the rest of the YOUNGOs (Youth NGOs) over the next week.
  5. Communications – And finally… We’ll be communicating to all of you exactly what’s going on here in Cancun, through our emails, our blog, our twitter, our pictures and videos, and our facebook page.

So like i said… something’s got to change…

But that’s why we’re here! So check in every day to see what the IFMSA delegation is up to, and see how the negotiations are fairing.

We’d love to hear from you too! Reply to this post, tell us what you want to see come out of COP16, and what you think we should be doing about it.

Nick Watts

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