Developing national health policy for climate change

Several issues must be addressed while developing a national health policy for climate change. One central issue will be which general principles to employ, such as the precautionary principle, legal compliance, democratic control, extended producer responsibility and the preventive principle.

In establishing the health policy, defined and measurable goals should be set, a time frame determined and a scheme for monitoring, evaluation and auditing agreed. All relevant stakeholders should formulate, implement and periodically review an integrated national policy that should be holistic and cover all health aspects of climate change.

Human-induced changes in the global climate system and in stratospheric ozone pose a range of severe health risks and potentially threaten economic development and social and political stability. National action is urgently required by all countries to reduce and prevent as far as possible these environmental changes and to limit the exposure of human populations to climate change and increased ultraviolet irradiation, and the consequential health risks over the coming decades.

National commitment must include specifying the policy and action to be taken or initiated at the government level. This includes a policy statement explicitly clarifying the commitment of the government and of the ministers involved, and a government policy document specifying national objectives, the underlying principles, the necessary legislative and non-legislative tools, and the principles of monitoring and evaluation.

Policy also includes a national strategic action plan, intended to identify the actions necessary to achieve objectives specified in the national policy on climate change. The strategic action plan should also specify the role and action to be taken by each stakeholder, including government institutions and local authorities. The entire national system should be audited and evaluated periodically, so that adjustments can be made as necessary, and to ensure continuous feedback from society.

In Europe there are several research-related initiatives which address climate change and its impacts. However, few of these initiatives address the impacts on human health, reflecting the fact that this topic is in the early stages of development. Furthermore, those initiatives are currently distributed unevenly between European countries. Very few countries have conducted national assessments of the potential effects of climate change on human health. None the less, a regional review of health impacts in Europe was recently conducted for a regional assessment report compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Because of the scale of the analysis, this Europe-wide review cannot provide insight into the extent of health effects related to climate change at national and local levels.
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal