2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 28)

COP 28: Unitaid’s Climate and Health Strategy

The World Health Organization has called climate change “the single biggest health threat facing humanity.” The impacts of climate change are jeopardizing progress in development, global health and poverty reduction, and creating new health risks that disproportionately affect the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Climate change is making people more vulnerable to illnesses exacerbated by increased pollution, flooding, extreme heat, drought and famine, and increasing the spread of infectious diseases like malaria. Deforestation and urbanization are raising the risk of spillover of disease from wildlife to humans; we have already seen this in recent years with new influenza strains and re-emerging viruses.

Extreme weather events like hurricanes and floods are becoming more frequent, destroying critical infrastructure, disrupting supply chains and cutting off access to lifesaving health products.
While the global health sector is racing to address the impacts of climate change on people’s health, it also contributes 4.6% of the world’s carbon emissions, mostly through manufacturing, transportation and delivery of health products and services. If we are to achieve universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals in the face of climate change, the global health sector requires a fundamental rethink about the type of health care that is needed and how it is developed and delivered.

How we work

At Unitaid, we save lives by making new health products available and affordable for people in low- and middle-income countries. We connect all relevant partners to find and invest in innovative tests, treatments and tools, help tackle the market barriers that are holding them back, and get them to the people who need them most – fast.

We are working to address the impacts of climate change on our work – and the impact of our work on the environment. “Climate and health” is a key priority in Unitaid’s 2023-2027 Strategy, and our new Climate and Health Strategy is focused on mitigation, adaptation, and reducing our own carbon footprint.

Climate-smart health products: Unitaid’s Climate and Health Strategy is anchored in a simple concept: climate-smart health products (see box below for detail). This aligns with WHO’s comprehensive approach to “climate-resilient health systems”. Climate-smart health products have a strong public health value, are relevant for affected communities, support our objectives for mitigation and adaptation, and are more sustainable than current products and interventions.

For more information, check out our dedicated web page climate and health.

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News and Press Releases

Nov 28, 2023

New report shows 10 lifesaving health products contribute 3.5 megatons of carbon emissions per year – while also being at risk from climate change

Read More

Dec 03, 2023

Global health agency Unitaid announces ambitious goal of introducing several “climate-smart” health products by 2030 in a new climate and health strategy released on COP28 Health Day

Read More

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