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The COP26 Health Programme

The COP26 Health Programme has been developed and delivered by the UK government as the Presidency of COP26, with its partners including the World Health Organization (WHO), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the UNFCCC Climate Champions, and the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA).

The programme enables transformational change in health systems globally that protects both people and the planet whilst elevating the trusted voices of health professionals to present the health argument for higher ambition on climate change
action. The programme includes three thematic areas:

Building climate resilient and sustainable low carbon health systems

52 countries (including Malawi, Spain, Indonesia, Morocco and the US) have committed to building health systems which are able to withstand the impacts of climate change and which are low carbon and sustainable. These include 47 countries, representing over a third of global health care emissions, which have committed to develop a sustainable, low-carbon health system. 14 of these 47 countries have set a deadline of 2050 or earlier, by which their health system will reach Net Zero.

COP26 Health professional advocacy

Developed and led by our non-government partners, more than 460 health organisations globally have signed the ‘Healthy Climate Prescription’ letter which calls for stronger action on climate change to protect people’s health. This represents more than 46 million health workers, in over 100 countries. The letter was delivered to COP26. The campaign also produced a short video that highlighted the voices of health workers from around the world discussing the health argument for more action on climate change. This was played at the health event on the COP26 Presidency main agenda.

Health adaptation research

Working with the COP26 Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA), the consultation results on the global climate resilient health systems research were announced at COP26 during a co-hosted event with WHO at the Health Pavilion.

During COP26 there were a number of events which focused on the COP26 Health Programme:

  • COP26 Science and Innovation Day
    The Climate Action for Health event focused on the health co-benefits argument for improving health through climate change action. It brought in health professional advocacy voices, covered announcements on country commitments to building climate resilient and sustainable low carbon health systems, and brought forward the health argument for stronger action to address climate change. The session featured a panel session chaired by Minister Morton, with representation from GSK, Green Climate Fund, WHO, Ministers of Health and Environment, former PM Gordon Brown (WHO Ambassador for Global Health Finance) and a climate youth activist.
  • The Health Argument for Climate Action – The COP26 Heath Programme
    This event was organised by WHO, to raise awareness and support for the COP26 Health Programme, and to promote the WHO’s 10 calls for climate action to assure sustained recovery from COVID-19. The event had presentations and discussions from UK government (Minister Morton), UNFCCC, WHO and a range of UN and Non-government organisations.
  • High level meeting on ‘financing the COP26 Health Initiatives’
    This event brought together multilateral and bilateral donors with Health and Environment Ministers, to discuss the barriers, opportunities and solutions to implementing and financing plans to build resilient and sustainable/low-carbon health systems.
  • COP26 Health Programme Press Briefing
    A press briefing was coordinated by WHO to present the COP26 Health Programme announcement on country commitments to build climate resilient and sustainable low carbon health systems. The press briefing featured: UK Government (Minister Morton), WHO, Ministers form USA and Maldives, and Health Care Without Harm.
  • Climate and health research event
    This event developed in partnership with the WHO, encompassed the launch of the WHO report on the state of climate and health research, and the launch of the Global Research Agenda on building climate resilient health systems (as part of the COP26 Health Programme).