ICN’s key messages on climate change and health echoed in COP28’s Climate and Health declaration

Climate Change
13 December 2023
PR 44

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) raised the concerns of the world’s nurses about the dangerous health effects of climate change at the COP28’s first Climate and Health Day meeting in Dubai.

ICN delivered its key messages about phasing out fossil fuels, building low-carbon, climate resistant health systems and putting health at the centre of climate change by investing in nursing.

ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton said: “Nurses right around the world are seeing the harmful effects of climate change and are caring for those who are affected by them. Climate Change is putting additional demands on already overburdened health systems that are still struggling to recover from Covid. The current situation is simply unsustainable for nurses and other health workers, and the facilities they work in.

‘As nurses, we know the importance of addressing root causes and let’s be clear: fossil fuel emissions are the single biggest contributor to climate change, and by a huge margin. We are disappointed that at the last moment, COP28 stepped back from the historic commitment to phase out fossil fuels that the health of the planet needs, and instead used the weaker language of transitioning away from fossil fuels. We must continue to work to strive for the necessary reductions in greenhouse gases but let there be no doubt: the world has to end its addiction to fossil fuels now.”

Dr Sumaya Mohammed AlBlooshi, President of the Emirates Nursing Association, who attended the meeting on behalf of ICN, said: “I strongly advocate for the phasing out of fossil fuels. As nursing leaders, we are committed to contributing to building a resilient health system and strengthening the health workforce. And also to ensuring that part of the climate financing goes to help workforce preparedness for climate action.”

Key points from the Health Day Declaration include:

  • Prioritizing a comprehensive response to climate change impacts on health, encompassing mental health, cultural losses, and displacement.
  • Combating inequalities, working towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and improving health, livelihoods, and social protection systems globally.
  • Encouraging emissions reduction and waste management in the health sector, promoting sustainability and setting procurement standards.
  • Scaling up investments in climate and health from various sources, strengthening synergies between climate and health portfolios.
  • Regularly convening with diverse stakeholders, including the ATACH initiative, to foster collaboration on climate change and health.

Watch the discussion between Mr Catton and Dr AlBlooshi below:


The full text of the health declaration can be found at COP28 UAE Declaration on climate and health