G20 Foundation Publications Australia 2014 - Page 38

38 H E A LT H C A R E H E A LT H C A R E WHO Director-General on health and climate Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General Opening remarks at the Conference on Health and Climate Geneva, Switzerland 27 August 2014 Excellencies, honourable ministers, distinguished participants, colleagues in the United Nations system, ladies and gentlemen, It is good to see so many ministers here. Let me warmly welcome you to this conference on health and climate. Thank you for giving us your expertise and your time. You have an important job to do. Debates about climate change are still not giving sufficient attention to the profound effects that climate variables have on health. In March, The World Health Organization revised its estimates of the health effects of air pollution upwards. In 2012, exposure to air pollution killed around 7 million people worldwide, making it the world’s largest single environmental health risk. In my view, the well-documented health effects are what matters most. Climate and weather affect the air people breathe, the food they eat, and the water they drink. Signals about what human activities have done to the environment are becoming increasingly shrill. Records for extreme weather events are being broken a record number of times. Our planet is losing its capacity to sustain human life in good health. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its most disturbing report to date, with a strong focus on the consequences for health. That report also underscored specific health interventions that strengthen resilience to climate change and contribute to sustainable development. I am aware of speculatio