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A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) has made 10 calls for global action on climate change to ensure a “healthy and green recovery” from the spread of COVID-19.

Launched earlier this week (11 October), ahead of this year’s United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the WHO report was released alongside an open letter signed by representatives from more than 300 health peak bodies and worker groups, representing “at least” 45 million health workers globally.

The WHO report calls on countries who take part in COP26 to move urgently and take action in response to the climate crisis. Its list of recommendations call for government intervention in transport, urban planning and the management of food systems, among other factors.

According to the WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the links between the health of humans and the ecosystems to which they belong.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the intimate and delicate links between humans, animals and our environment,” Dr Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“The same unsustainable choices that are killing our planet are killing people. WHO calls on all countries to commit to decisive action at COP26 to limit global warming to 1.5°C – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s in our own interests.”

The WHO’s calls were published alongside the release of the report, titled COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health: The Health Argument for Climate Action, which can be download and read in full here.

  1. Commit to a healthy recovery. Commit to a healthy, green and just recovery from COVID-19.
  2. Our health is not negotiable. Place health and social justice at the heart of the UN climate talks.
  3. Harness the health benefits of climate action. Prioritise those climate interventions with the largest health-, social- and economic gains.
  4. Build health resilience to climate risks. Build climate resilient and environmentally sustainable health systems and facilities, and support health adaptation and resilience across sectors.
  5. Create energy systems that protect and improve climate and health. Guide a just and inclusive transition to renewable energy to save lives from air pollution, particularly from coal combustion. End energy poverty in households and health care facilities.
  6. Reimagine urban environments, transport and mobility. Promote sustainable, healthy urban design and transport systems, with improved land-use, access to green and blue public space, and priority for walking, cycling and public transport.
  7. Protect and restore nature as the foundation of our health. Protect and restore natural systems, the foundations for healthy lives, sustainable food systems and livelihoods.
  8. Promote healthy, sustainable and resilient food systems. Promote sustainable and resilient food production and more affordable, nutritious diets that deliver on both climate and health outcomes.
  9. Finance a healthier, fairer and greener future to save lives. Transition towards a wellbeing economy.
  10. Listen to the health community and prescribe urgent climate action. Mobilise and support the health community on climate action.