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Minister Donnelly highlights importance of climate-resilient and sustainable health systems

Today, 30 October, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly T.D. announced Ireland’s support for two global health initiatives promoting Climate Resilient and Low Carbon Health Systems and Facilities.

These initiatives, promoted by the World Health Organization and the COP26 Health Programme, seek to strengthen the resilience and sustainability of health systems across the globe ahead of the COP26 climate conference, which takes place in Glasgow in November 2021.

Speaking on the importance of first initiative, in ensuring that health systems are adequately prepared for the impacts of climate change, Minister Donnelly said:

“These initiatives are particularly timely, given both the increasing impacts of climate change being felt both in Ireland and across the world and the stark warnings contained in the recent IPCC Report. All key sectors in Ireland, including the health sector, have developed adaptation plans outlining the current and anticipated impacts of climate change, and I have included actions to prepare for these impacts in the forthcoming whole-of-government Climate Action Plan. Across the world, the vulnerability of health systems to the impacts of climate change is a growing concern, and I welcome these initiatives in raising awareness and promoting action to ensure the resilience of our systems.”

Reflecting on the second initiative, which promotes the development of low-carbon health systems, the Minister noted that the health sector cannot be considered in isolation, but highlighted the importance of coherent action across all sectors to reduce emissions:

“Ireland has committed to achieving net-zero emissions no later than 2050, and to a 51% reduction in emissions by the end of this decade. This requires whole-of-government joined-up action, and the health sector has a role to play in ensuring that it follows and supports the range of actions necessary to enable us to achieve our ambitions. While supporting the initiative in principle, I intend to examine in greater detail the contribution to be made by the health sector to the Climate Action Plan process and to interrogate Ireland’s national greenhouse gas emissions inventory in order to map the role of the health sector in Ireland’s pathway towards achieving our climate objectives.”

The Minister concluded by expressing his interest in the outcomes of the COP26 Health Programme and the health-related outcomes of the conference.