Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization 23/06/15
In 2009, as countries prepared to negotiate a global climate treaty in Copenhagen, Denmark, the front cover of the first Lancet Commission on health and climate change issued a stark warning: “Climate change is the greatest health threat of the 21st Century”. This warning was not heeded: the overall agreement fell short of the necessary ambition, and health was noticeable by its absence from the negotiations. However, over the longer term, the Commission made its mark, contributing to a gradual but increasing engagement of the health community. As countries prepare again to reach a global deal on climate change, in Paris, France in December 2015, the health voice is louder, clearer, and increasingly listened to by our colleagues leading the negotiations.
The launch of the second Lancet Commission is therefore very timely. It is welcome not just for the summary of the evidence, but also for the wider scope, which makes connections between climate, health, economics, and energy decisions. I also congratulate the Commission for a comprehensive, ambitious, and forward looking set of recommendations, and encourage national Ministries of Health, and all health professionals, to consider each of them carefully. I would like to single out three of them where WHO will make a direct and specific contribution.
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