WHO chief discusses 'grave challenges' to health caused by climate change with Cop28 head

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hails UAE's drive to tackle climate change's impact on health in meeting with Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation's director general, met Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate. Dr Ghebreyesus / X
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The World Health Organisation's director general has held key talks with Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate, over the “grave challenges” posed to public health by climate change.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the crunch Cop28 summit – which will take centre stage in Dubai in 100 days – would be “a historic moment” in the vital mission to protect the planet and its people.

Dr Ghebreyesus hailed the UAE's decision to dedicate a day of the upcoming global gathering to the climate and health crisis.

He said the move would further efforts to address a “threat of global importance”.

“[I] Held a very constructive discussion with Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate, on the grave challenges to public health that climate change is presenting here and now,” Dr Ghebreyesus wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday.

“I commended Dr Al Jaber for his leadership and collaboration on using Cop28 as a historic moment to take the urgent action needed to address the health impacts of climate change.

“The landmark and historic decision by UAE to dedicate a day of Cop28 to the climate and health crisis will provide the attention required to address this threat of global importance.”

The discussions between the two men came days after Dr Ghebreyesus praised the Emirates for putting the impact on health at the top of the climate agenda.

The global summit opens on November 30 at Dubai’s Expo City, with December 1 and 2 allocated for world leaders to outline their plans for climate action.

The fourth day, December 3, will, consider health issues in depth. It is the first Cop summit to feature discussions on the relationship between climate change and health. A second theme of the day will be relief, recovery and peace.

“The climate crisis is a health crisis. I very much appreciate the leadership of the UAE in dedicating one day of Cop28to health,” he said last week, while at a G20 Joint Health-Finance Ministers Meeting in Gandhinagar, India.

Last month, Dr Al Jaber said the summit will be based around four pillars – fast-tracking the energy transition, fixing the climate finance, focusing on people and making inclusivity a hallmark of the summit in Dubai.

It will see the world complete a first-ever “global stocktake” of progress in limiting climate change.

The Cop28 presidency released its two-week thematic programme last month. Photo: Cop28
Updated: August 23, 2023, 7:18 AM