Skip to content
Follow us

WHO makes climate change and health a strategic priority

As climate change and health are made a strategic priority for WHO in its next programme of work, a critical first step is adoption of a resolution on climate and health.

At the World Health Assembly, taking place in Geneva this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the General Programme of Work 2025-2028, which includes responding to the escalating threat to health posed by climate change as one of its six strategic objectives. These objectives reflect major areas of focus for this four-year period.

It is critical the WHO and member states adopt a proposed resolution on Climate Change and Health. The draft resolution clearly states that climate change is a major threat to global public health, and sets out a framework to promote health and build climate-resilient and sustainable health systems. The key global health meeting takes place just ahead of next month’s UN Climate negotiations in Bonn (SB 60). 

“Adoption of the Climate Change and Health resolution during this month’s World Health Assembly would demonstrate a clear political commitment by governments and WHO to scale up climate action as a public health priority in order to protect people from the increasing health impacts of climate change”, said Rosie Tasker, Clean Air Liaison at the Global Climate and Health Alliance. “Following years of calls for greater action by civil society organisations and the Director General and other senior leadership of WHO, the resolution also clearly connects health to climate mitigation, adaptation, and for the first time, loss and damage. If adopted next week, this resolution has enormous potential to influence how WHO and the global health community respond to the challenges of the climate crisis, including working more closely with the UNFCCC, and building on the COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health”.

“The Climate Change and Health resolution highlights the myriad ways in which climate change is shaping people’s health; from increasing food insecurity and air pollution, to emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, alongside more frequent extreme heat and weather events”, said Tasker. “The resolution also notes how climate change is affecting the ability of individuals to access clinics and hospitals. One major theme during the WHA negotiations will be how climate change is already exacerbating gender inequities, and risks faced by the most vulnerable and marginalised communities, jeopardising the achievement of global health and development goals”. 

“COP28 was the moment when health finally started to garner real attention during climate negotiations, and we now welcome climate in turn becoming a primary focus for the world’s health community”, said Jess Beagley, Policy Lead at the Global Climate and Health Alliance.

“For decades, the intersection of climate and health has fallen between the cracks of national and intergovernmental processes. With the UNFCCC intersessional meetings in Bonn around the corner, and COP29 on the horizon, it’s crucial that the health and climate community maintains and builds on this momentum during this World Health Assembly. We’re calling for urgent cross-sectoral action, beginning with eliminating the world’s dependence on fossil fuels to protect people’s health and wellbeing, and with investments in health systems and societies to better withstand challenges of the climate crisis”.