Dubai, Dec. 2, 2023 – The following statement was issued today by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Executive Director of Global Health Dr. Chris Walzer:  

“The COP28 UAE Presidency in collaboration with the World Health Organization and other partners is holding the first ever Health Day and climate-health ministerial. The dedicated health day is expected to lift the political profile of the climate-health nexus, and finally, mainstream health in the global climate change agenda. Further, during the COP28 World Climate Action Summit, it was announced today that 123 countries endorsed the COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health. WCS strongly supports this long-overdue focus on health.  

“This is about the health, wellbeing, and survival of millions of individuals across the globe, including Indigenous Peoples and traditional place-based communities disproportionately affected by the catastrophic effects of a warming planet.  

“The climate emergency is not just an environmental problem. Over the past year, climate-induced wildfires, floods and heatwaves, paired with emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases all over the world, have affected human health and wellbeing and weakened the ability of healthcare systems to respond to the crisis. WCS works with governments, Indigenous Peoples, local communities and other stakeholders to tackle health with a systems perspective rooted in a One Health approach for the health of all. 

“Drawing from the holistic approach to health embraced by Indigenous Peoples, we have an invaluable opportunity to ensure their meaningful and effective participation in COP28 processes and outcomes. Indigenous and scientific ways of knowing clearly demonstrate the intricate connections between climate and health.

 “The evolving climate emergency is having a significant impact on the prevalence and spread of numerous infectious and non-communicable diseases and is causing pain and suffering due to flooding, heatwaves, poor air quality, and other extremes resulting from the climate crisis. The re-emergence of diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and West Nile virus in regions previously unaffected and ever-increasing respiratory and cardio-vascular impacts from air pollution underscores the risks associated with climate change and environmental destruction. These human-engendered shifts underscore the heightened threats to global health posed by our changing world.”