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Showcasing Solutions That Address Health and Climate Change, UN Climate Change Secretariat launches new Momentum for Change: Planetary Health with support from The Rockefeller Foundation

MARRAKECH—The Rockefeller Foundation and UNFCCC today announced a new, three-year project that will shine a light on solutions to balancing the need for both human health and a healthy planet.

Momentum for Change: Planetary Health will recognize and showcase novel solutions to balancing the need for healthy communities with stewardship of natural ecosystems.

Speaking Saturday afternoon at a special event at the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech,

Morocco, senior government officials and influential corporate leaders highlighted the unique link between environment and health, especially as national governments prepare to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

“The Paris Agreement explicitly links climate action with a healthier environment – from cleaner air and reduced risks of extreme heatwaves to keeping in check the spread of diseases. Today we need to think differently about the relationship between climate health and human health,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. “With Momentum for Change: Planetary Health we will shine a light on outstanding initiatives by communities, cities, companies, NGO and other institutions: ones where climate action is generating innovative, positive impacts on health in ways that can inspire others to greater ambition.”

The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health recognizes that human health and the health of our planet are inextricably linked, and that our civilization depends on human health, flourishing natural systems, and the wise stewardship of natural resources. With natural systems being degraded to an extent unprecedented in human history, both our health and that of our planet are in peril.

One well-known impact of human behavior is the changing climate, which is altering the pattern of diseases, mortality, human settlements, food, water, and sanitation. Climate change brings increasing temperatures, rising seas, and more frequent incidence of severe storms. Known human impacts include flooding that can increase risks of water-related illnesses as well as vector-borne illnesses; an impact on food production – both in terms of increased drought cycles and diminished micronutrients in staple crops; and the pollutants that are tied to carbon emissions (and climate change) are also detrimental to human health. Today, there is greater mortality globally due to air pollution than because of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

“The evidence is clear. We harm our health when we harm our planet,” said Michael Myers, Managing Director for Global Health at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Planetary health is a new field, and one that needs ideas and solutions that span multiple sectors and disciplines to guide the creative stewardship of our planet to protect our own health. By working with UNFCCC and supporting Momentum for Change; Planetary Health, we will see how communities are creating new ways use the planet’s resources wisely to protect their health – ways that can serve as a model for others.”

The new partnership between The Rockefeller Foundation and the UN Climate Change secretariat is part of a larger initiative that showcases successful climate action around the world. In 2017, Momentum for Change will have five focus areas: Women for Results, Financing for Climate Friendly Investment, ICT Solutions, Climate Neutral Now and, now, Planetary Health.

Beginning next year, people, institutions and companies can submit examples of how health-focused solutions addresses climate change and builds resilience. The most inspiring, innovative and successful activities will be selected as Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities, which will be recognized and celebrated during the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23).