Since its creation in 1951, the IFMSA has grown into a global movement, connecting an inspiring and engaging network of 1.3 million medical students from 137 national member organizations in 127 countries around the globe. Our immense network envisions a world in which medical students unite for global health and are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and values to take on health leadership roles locally and globally. However, bringing up medical students from all corners of the world to discuss and solve global health problems comes with obvious consequences. The raw reality of IFMSA work is that with its increasing quality and quantity, the impact of our actions on the climate and environment of our communities and ecosystems increases.
With this in mind, we realise the significant threat to the health of global populations climate change will have. Disturbances in climate stability will severely harm the health of humans, animals and the environment through an increase in extreme weather events, natural disasters, floods and resulting diarrheal disease, degradation of arable land, nutritional impacts, mass migration, and violent conflict. Climate change will play a greater role in infectious diseases patterns by widening the spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever and by creating more favorable conditions for climate sensitive disease vectors. Changes to the climate resulting in water scarcity and decreased sanitation alone will have devastating effects on public health systems in affected areas. Furthermore, extreme drought linked to climate change is creating conditions that contributed to civil instability.
As a result, IFMSA has become increasingly aware of its own impact on climate and environment, despite our continuous efforts to mitigate the risk and effects in the past several years. Every year, thousands of medical students engaged in IFMSA activities travel around the globe to participate in internal and external meetings, to do their internships or to take part in various IFMSA exchange programs abroad.
With these challenges, we understood that only our leadership, responsibility and action can lead to the desired outcome – to decrease the effect of IFMSA’s work on the climate and the environment and promote climate change mitigation and adaptation to ensure a healthy planet. In line with these ideas, and to transform our vision into reality, we are prour to present you the first edition of IFMSA Recommendations for Sustainable and Climate-friendly Meetings! The aim of this document is to promote and support green conduct of our international meetings and to reduce medical students’ contributions to climate change. Organizers of official IFMSA events are encouraged to use this manual, follow the recommendations, and create events which are in line with our environmental values. In addition, any organisation is welcomed to use our manual to make their events environmentally and climate-friendly, since we all strive for the same goal – to not only protect the health of people, but also the health of our planet.
Contributors of the IFMSA Recommendations for Sustainable and Climate-friendly Meetings
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