Health and Climate: Latin American countries are working together towards building sustainable and climate resilient health systems and reducing emissions in the sector

25 Oct 2021
Health and Climate: Latin American countries are working together towards building sustainable and climate resilient health systems and reducing emissions in the sector

On Tuesday 19 October 2021, the government of the United Kingdom, in its capacity as incoming Presidency of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), and its partners the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and Greener NHS, convened a regional roundtable on sustainable and low emissions health systems attended by Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru. The Minister of Health of Peru and the Vice Minister of Public Health and Provision of Services of Colombia, as well as high-level representatives from Chile and Argentina, met to discuss how health can be a significant part of the solution to climate change. Governments exchanged on how they are building sustainable, low carbon health systems, with a view to protecting their populations from the negative impacts of climate change whilst making a substantial contribution to reducing national and global emissions. The roundtable marks the start of a regional dialogue aiming to strengthen ambition and share good practice. 

The roundtable took place as part of the preparations for the upcoming COP26, which will take place in Glasgow in November. Health has been selected as a COP26 priority science area, and to provide this increased focus for health the Presidency and their partners have launched the COP26 Health Programme, which includes an initiative for countries to commit to developing sustainable and low emissions health systems. The roundtable aimed to present potential adhering countries in the Latin American region with the available guidance, best practices and resources to support them in their own national journeys, and to facilitate an exchange of their experiences and perspectives regarding barriers and opportunities for climate-smart healthcare.

The countries that publicly commit to the COP26 Health Programme will be announced in the run-up to COP26 and collectively at a COP26 health event on the 9th November in Glasgow. Regardless of the formal status of their commitments, the countries that participated in the regional roundtable agreed to continue collaborating with each other and with the convening partners after COP26 to enhance support and cooperation for each national implementation process.