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Health mobilisation in Durban

The largest number ever of health delegations attended the international climate talks in Durban. Over 200 health groups attended the dozens of side-events. More than 250 delegates from 40 countries attended the Global Climate and Health Summit, where the establishment of a global climate and health coalition was proposed.

HEAL’s four person delegation to the UNFCCC conference were able to take part in many high-profile events, meet with the European climate change commissioner, several MEPs and many national and international policy makers, including representatives from WHO and UNEP., and continue the global climate and health movement and platform.

Prof Hugh Montgomery, UK Climate and Health Council and member of the HEAL delegation, spoke at the global climate and health summit on 4 December 2011. Out of this came the Durban Declaration on Climate and Health and the Durban Global Climate and Health Call to Action. The following day, a press conference was held in the UNFCCC conference press centre.

Pendo Maro, of Health & Environment Alliance and Health Care Without Harm, moderated the panel discussions at a Side Event, entitled “Climate Change and Public Health: Healthy Climate, Healthy People, Healthy Economy” organized by Health Care Without Harm, Health & Environment Alliance, Environmental Quality Protection Foundation, and International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA). Pendo emphasised the positive message: the tangible medium and long-term impacts to health, economy, and the environment.

Juliet Duff, Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association (IDEA) met with the Irish delegation, including Irish Environment Minister Hogan where, with others, she was able to successfully put the health co-benefits across.

Media coverage on health and climate change was the best ever achieved. Press articles and blogs, YouTube videos and Twitter feeds helped to get the message across both inside the negotiating venues and throughout Africa and the world. Hugh Montgomery was featured on the internal TV coverage, HEAL was featured in a full page feature in the internal newspaper and we twittered our press release to the 15 MEPs attending the Durban talks. The African media extensively covered the health aspects of climate change and articles about Durban also appeared in both the British Medical Journal and the Lancet medical journal. The official press release for the Summit was picked up more than 220 times by PR Newswire.

Mentions of health in the negotiating texts remain few and far between. However, HEAL and other health NGOs worked hard to encourage countries to embed health messages and stated ambitions into the discussions. They did this by highlighting the serious and increasing risks to health from climate change, as well as the substantial and immediate benefits to health from strategies to reduce emissions.

Last updated on 26 January 2012

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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