COP22, following on from the historic COP21 which finalised the Paris Agreement, is being held this year in Marrakesh. The IFMSA has a delegation and those here for the first week includes Amine (Morocco), Amr (Egypt), Mia (UK), Omar (Morocco), Sanne (Netherlands) and Skander (Tunisia) ? the spectacular six!? These intrepid explorers are traversing the confusing and muddy waters of UN climate negotiations with the aim to spread our cry of health! far and wide in the talks.
Prior to COP22, a 3-day youth satellite event was held, the 12th Conference of Youth (COY12), where youth from all over the world came to discuss climate change, benefit from presentations from their peers and exchange experiences. It was also a platform of preparation for YOUNGO, the Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC, where youth discussed their strategy and prepared their advocacy material. It was a truly inspiring event, meeting so many motivated and incredible young people was a great start to the COP!
It is vital to include health in all areas of climate negotiations because whether we are talking about the need for funds for Loss and Damages or impact of emissions on air quality, health is implicated. It is widely quoted that the greatest threat to global health today is climate change and to minimise damage to health of all populations around the world we need to ACT on climate change now. Putting health at the forefront of negotiations highlights the imperative need for action, which here at COP22 ? dubbed the COP of ACTION ? is so important.
The links between health and climate change are so obvious and important to us as a delegation, and yet it is a real challenge to hold other COP22s attention on this topic because everyone here – youth and negotiators – have their own agendas and special areas of interest. Getting other youth groups to include health in their policy papers or speeches is an uphill struggle as although they see the links, the space that youth have to share our views to state members is limited.
Week 1 at COP22 sees the delegation following the interventions and negotiations made by UNFCCC and YOUNGO (the official youth constituency of the UNFCCC). We also have facilitated a workshop ourselves, being run by the wonderful Amr and Sanne, on the health impacts of climate change and the opportunities the Paris Agreement offers to health. This has been held in the Green Zone, so was open to a greater audience.
YOUNGO is busy at this COP as ever with working groups on ACE (Action for Climate Empowerment), Loss and Damages, Mitigation, Adaptation. For example ACE is looking at the part of education in the global climate action, and in the role of youth empowerment and inclusion in UNFCCC processes where there opportunities to include climate in different disciplines, including the health or medical curricula.
Furthermore, the IFMSA delegation is launching (again) the Health Working Group to bring more interested YOUNGO members on the topic and allow this space to speak on the health aspect within and beyond IFMSAs priorities. We are therefore using the Health workshop Sanne and Amr are facilitating, to kick start a Health working group to further get people thinking about the importance of health in this topic. Last but not least, we have launched policy briefs?and statements to represent the youths opinions and ideas to the negotiators, to be circulated at different occasions, including health events and bilateral meetings.
As of the next days, we are planning to continue taking part in the health-related talks and discussions from different groups, mainly the health action day on Friday 11th November organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Moroccan presidency, as well as the negotiations, trying to see opportunities for health discussions with member states.
If you would like to know more, join us in our live from COP22 webinar! Follow this link to join us online and see for yourself what all the excitement is about! All you have to do to join this webinar is click on the following link: goo.gl/sg9Zl8. The stream goes live on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 15:00 GMT. It has been my first COP experience (and to be honest my first IFMSA experience) and it has already been such a wonderful, important time. Working and learning from my fellow delegates has been so good, they are truly an inspiring bunch! Negotiations move so depressingly slowly sometimes but even so it has been so amazing to see it live in action. Going to bed and being excited about the next day is a privilege (especially when the next day is very few hours sleep away!), and I am enjoying every minute of it.
Mia Thomas, Medsin-UK