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WHO, Rio Conventions Publish Report on Health and Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification

WHOJune 2012: The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a discussion paper on the linkages between health and biodiversity, climate change and desertification, the representation of health in the three Rio Conventions, and the opportunities for more integrated and effective policy.

Produced in collaboration with the Secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the report is titled "Our Planet, Our Health, Our Future - Human health and the Rio Conventions: biological diversity, climate change and desertification." It demonstrates the importance of human health as an integrating theme across sustainable development and calls for more coordination in addressing global environmental change.

On collaboration with the CBD, the paper highlights a recent decision of the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP) to strengthen collaboration with WHO on the consideration of health issues as contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and addressing the impacts of climate change on public health.

On climate change, the paper suggests, among other opportunities: increasing the use of health expertise within UNFCCC work programmes to monitor adverse impacts of climate change on health, develop adequate response measures and avoid negative impacts through adaptation measures; better integrating health impacts and co-benefits in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and National Adaptation Plans; and improving health-related reporting.

On synergies with UNCCD, the paper highlights opportunities to integrate health into actions towards the Convention's strategic objective to improve living conditions of affecting populations and the Advocacy Policy Framework on Gender.

The final section outlines opportunities in the context of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), including: improving synergies in policy design and support; strengthening research and operational capacity on environmental change and human health; and monitoring and evaluating progress across health, environment and sustainable development. [Publication: Our Planet, Our Health, Our Future - Human health and the Rio Conventions: Biological Diversity, Climate Change and Desertification]