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WHO European Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health Convenes

12 March 2010: The Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, which was held in Parma, Italy, from 10-12 March 2010, was a carbon-neutral event organized around the theme “Protecting children's health in a changing environment.” The Conference concluded with the adoption by 53 European Governments of the Parma Declaration on Health and Environment.

In the Parma Declaration, Ministers commit to act on key environment and health challenges, including the health and environmental impacts of climate change. The event was organized by the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO) and hosted by Italy's Ministry of Health and Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea.

The Declaration contains a section titled “Protecting health and the environment from climate change,” in which  Ministers commit to: protect health and well-being, natural resources and ecosystems, as well as promote health equity, health security and healthy environments in a changing climate; integrate health issues in all climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, policies and strategies at all levels and in all sectors; assess, prevent and address any adverse health effects of such policies; strengthen health, social welfare and environmental systems and services to improve their response to the impacts of climate change; develop and strengthen early warning surveillance and preparedness systems for extreme weather events and disease outbreaks; develop and implement educational and public awareness programmes on climate change and health; collaborate to increase the health sector's contribution to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and strengthen its leadership on energy- and resource-efficient management; and encourage research and development.

Ministers further call on the WHO Regional Office for Europe to discuss with the European Commission, the European Environment Agency, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners, on setting up European information platforms for systematic sharing of best practices, research, data, information, technology and tools focused on health at all levels.

Ministers also welcome the regional framework for action titled “Protecting health in an environment challenged by climate change,” which provides a comprehensive roadmap laying out steps and priorities for coordinated international and national action. The outcomes of the Conference are expected to be endorsed through a resolution by the 60th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, which will convene in September 2010, in Moscow, Russia.

At the closing of the Parma Conference, Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, announced that a European Environment and Health Task Force and a European Environment and Health Ministerial Board will be established to further strengthen the environment and health process, and that a Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health will be held in 2016. [Parma Declaration on Health and Environment] [Fact Sheet: Solid Facts on Climate Change and Health] [Conference Website]