CSH@COP26 Day 2: The World Leaders Summit

The World Leaders Summit continued on Tuesday, as national representatives made statements of their climate commitments and gave the world a flavour of what can be hoped for over the negotiation period. In attendance from CSH were Chantelle Rizan, Associate and Victoria Stanford, Education Fellow. 

Over 100 world leaders have committed to conserve rainforests and accelerate restoration in the Glasgow Leader’s Declaration on Forests and Land Use. A funding pledge, led by the EU and philanthropic organisations has also been announced specifically for the protection of the Congo Basin

The US has also announced a commitment along with another 90 countries to reduce methane emissions by 30% within a decade. This would have important implications for short-term emissions given the potency of methane as a powerful greenhouse gas.

There are early, hopeful signs that this COP may include the perspective of indigenous communities more than in previous conferences, with a $1.7 billion fund announced which will be given directly to communities in recognition of their key role in forest protection.

Tuesday 2nd November also saw the launch of the COP26 World Health Organisation Health Pavilion. This represents the start of a two-week programme of events at the heart of the blue zone in COP26, placing health at the centre of the need to mitigate climate change. Here’s a link to the full programme and will be live-streamed, here. The Health Pavilion also functions as a central hub for healthcare professionals to meet and collaborate.

Today’s sessions explored the relationship between human and planetary health, with a strong focus on co-benefits that tackling climate change can have, leading to economic and environmental sustainability whilst improving health and reducing inequalities.

Highlights of today included a panel session on air pollution and health with representatives from the Clean Air fund, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Public Health Association of South Africa. This emphasised the need to ‘cut carbon, reduce pollution, improve health’. This drew upon research from LSHTM which surveyed 3,222 young people and their parents about their city, finding 4 in 10 listed air pollution as worse thing about their cities. The benefit that reducing air pollution can have on our health was modelled, finding that cutting air pollution would prevent 20,000 cases of childhood asthma, over 43,000 premature births, over 22,000 low birthweight births per year across 16 cities globally. This session also emphasised how air pollution can widen health inequalities, poignantly described by Public Health Foundation of India who highlighted that women and children, and in particular pregnant women, are amongst most vulnerable populations in India exposed to household indoor pollution due to use of solid cooking fuels including coal.

The afternoon built upon this theme, with messages from food and agriculture, including a session delivering climate resilient, sustainable and healthy diets, from speakers including those from Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Public Health Foundation of India. This made clear how the delivery of efficient, sustainable, resilient & equitable food systems is essential for healthy people & healthy planet. This is particularly important issue given that over one-third of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions relate to food systems. There are clear co-benefits of shifting to sustainable & healthy diets through reducing environmental impact whilst improving health in relation to obesity, undernourishment, and food insecurity.

Finally, Yale University hosted a fantastic panel discussion covering sustainability in the healthcare sector, addressing international standardized metrics, accountability, mitigation, and resilience strategies that inform public policy, healthcare industry and practice. Here, the Greener NHS team highlighted that the NHS will adopt the Government’s Social Value Model (PPN 06/20) from April 2022, where all NHS tenders must include a minimum of 10% scoring criteria in all procurements to assess how suppliers will contribute to the NHS’ net zero targets and social value in contract delivery. Action on the healthcare supply chain is particularly important given that this contributes two-thirds of carbon impacts, and this session linked with the Net Zero Supplier roadmap, released just a few weeks ago.

We were also interested to hear from Andrea MacNeill in relation to the 3 levels of social accountability to which individual clinicians can take action including micro level (individual day to day clinical practice), meso (influencing hospital and health system level, and communities we serve), macro (influencing government and regulatory bodies through leadership and advocacy).

Today was an opportunity to link strongly with our CSH priority actions including

  1. Invest in the transition to environmentally sustainable healthcare systems to ensure all health systems are Net Zero by 2040
  2. Develop and fund expertise and infrastructure for the transition to environmentally sustainable healthcare systems


Chantelle Rizan, CSH Associate, ENT Research Fellow at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Trust, Surgical Research Fellow at Royal College of Surgeons England, and Honorary Clinical Lecturer at Brighton and Sussex Medical School 

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Through the representation of 10 members of our network, the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) is attending the ‘Blue Zone’ negotiations and presidency programme events as an official observer. To increase transparency and feedback to the health community throughout the COP26 summit, CSH is publishing a daily recap blog summarising the latest developments, health implications, and potential solutions. These blogs will be linked from our CSH@COP26 page.

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