25+ partners join forces to address the climate and health crisis in the Caribbean

14 Sep 2021
Climate Change and Health


An unprecedented consortium of more than 25 international, U.S., and Caribbean organizations, including the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), has come together to address the public health challenge of climate change in the Caribbean, one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the adverse health effects of the climate crisis.

The first step in this collaboration is a virtual conference that will be held October 5-8, 2021. Registration for the conference is free and is available here. Simultaneous interpretation from English to Spanish and English to French will be available. A complete list of consortium partners can be found here.

Establishing climate resilient health systems in the Caribbean are an important part of protecting the public said Dean Chambliss, PAHO Subregional Program Director for the Caribbean.  “The impacts from climate change pose a challenge to human health in the Caribbean. These negative health outcomes related to heat stress, injuries, food/water contamination and geographic expansion of vectors are complex and require public health prevention and preparation. This conference supports the development of an unprecedented network of climate change and health experts as well as the opportunity to advance research and implementation in the Caribbean.”

The Caribbean’s costly noncommunicable disease epidemic – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and respiratory disease – is in part caused by climate change drivers. For example, in addition to emitting greenhouse gases, fossil fuel-dependent mechanized agriculture and motorized transport contribute to air pollution, sedentariness, unhealthy diets, obesity, and mental ill health.

The Caribbean Region is comprised of some 16 diverse, independent countries and 15 territories of G-20 Members, with more than 40 million residents and over 50 million visitors annually. The Region has of necessity developed some climate adaptation and disaster response and recovery capacity, but is limited by inadequate access to financing, by weak monitoring and data systems for evidence-informed planning and execution, and by challenges in alignment of effort across such a diverse range of countries, territories, and sectors.

A key conference goal is formation and strengthening of networks and linkages among participants to help promote action on climate change and health. After the conference, the consortium will work to finalize the research and implementation agenda and to obtain funding for, and coordinate and track progress in, its implementation.  The conference focuses on the information key stakeholders need for action:

  • October 5: The Varied Effects of Climate Change on Health
  • October 6: Immediate Health Benefits of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • October 7: The Health Sector and its Role in Addressing Climate Change and Health
  • October 8: Participation, Representation, and Collaboration to Implement the Research Agenda

Expected conference outputs include:

  • An action-oriented research and implementation agenda to address knowledge and implementation gaps
  • A white paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal
  • A communication product for the public and media
  • A presentation of the conference results at the WHO Global Conference on Health and Climate Change COP26 side event

The conference has received funding from The Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund, the Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies at The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the European Union, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, the Yale Institute for Global Health, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Guardian Group Charitable Foundation.

According to Dr. Robert Dubrow, Faculty Director of the Yale Center on Climate Change and Health and co-chair of the conference coordinating group, “Our center has identified the Caribbean as a priority area for our work because it is a climate change hotspot in our own backyard. In planning this conference, it has been a great honor to work with and get to know colleagues from the Caribbean, the United States, and elsewhere, especially my co-chair, Dr. James Hospedales, Founder of EarthMedic and EarthNurse Foundation for Planetary Health, based in Trinidad and Tobago. I look forward to the difficult post-conference work of executing a research and implementation agenda.”

PAHO/WHO Subregional Office (Barbados)
Lisa Bayley + 246 233 8534 bayleylis@paho.org

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) works with the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of its population. Founded in 1902, it is the world’s oldest international public health agency. It serves as the Regional Office of WHO for the Americas and is the specialized health agency of the Inter-American system. 

The PAHO Subregional Program is responsible for providing subregional technical cooperation and to strengthen PAHO’s engagement with the Caribbean Subregional integration mechanisms, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and its various bodies and organs; and to build synergistic partnerships with the subregional institutions such as the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the University of the West Indies (UWI), among others. PAHO’s subregional technical cooperation specifically focuses on public health issues which would benefit from economies of scale and for which agreement on proposed collective responses and actions would produce a far greater impact rather than individual country responses. The Subregional Program also plays a role in coordinating among the different PAHO country offices.