Pages tagged "governance"

  • UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres calls for transformation of world economy

    Peter-Sainsbury-GCHA-Summit_COP21

     

    CAHA Vice President Dr Peter Sainsbury is in Paris attending many of the side events accompanying the UNFCCC COP21 global climate change talks. He shares some reflections here on the process, stimulated by a presentation by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figures to one of these side events. "At the beginning of the second week of the COP21 negotiations in Paris, Executive Secretary of the UNFCC, Christiana Figueres, addressed a group of philanthropic funders. I was fortunate enough to be there and she was inspiring, but the message was also concerning. The whole speech, only 10 minutes, is available at http://youtu.be/vJOKGFZctPw I strongly encourage people to watch it.

    My summary, to whet your appetite, is: Ms Figueres began with some upbeat observations about progress in several domains over the last 12 months and then expressed her views that:

    · An agreement to tackle climate change would be nutted out over the next week, although it would be tough;

    · An agreement would probably be made about the direction of change but not the speed;

    · ˜a completely different economic development model' is required to effect the changes necessary;

    · Markets alone could achieve the change required but not quickly enough;

    · The science is clear that carbon emissions must peak by 2020 “ especially if we are to fulfil our moral duty to protect the most vulnerable communities;

    · We must focus our attention and help on developing countries “ they have increasing carbon emissions, increasing populations and increasing needs for infrastructure;

    · The energy needs of those without current access to electricity must be met with renewables “ but different finance models will be needed in different situations, for example for on-grid and off-grid communities;

    · We must find ways of working across not within silos, and for the long not the short term “ not easy for humans; The mantra is BAU: Business As Urgent.

    Why did I find all that concerning? Because while I am sure that we (the global we) understand the problem adequately and have sufficient technological solutions already available to us to keep global warming under 2C, I'm not sure that we have the social wherewithal (for instance common purpose and national and international institutions) to achieve the policy and technical changes necessary in the very short time we have left to prevent disaster. As others have observed: the laws of physics don't negotiate."

  • Powerful alliances pushing for action on climate change, locally and globally

    by Mark Hayes via Croakey The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine many of the gains in development and global health of the last fifty years.

    And yet according to the report, actions to tackle climate change could be the greatest opportunity to improve global health.

    The initial 2009 Lancet report titled, Managing the health effects of climate change, labelled climate change as "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century".

    Climate change is known to impact on health directly through increased injuries and deaths from heat stress, floods, droughts, and storms.

    Beyond these, there are potentially greater indirect impacts: the spread of climate-sensitive infectious diseases; air pollution affecting respiratory diseases; food insecurity; nutritional problems; mass migration and conflict; and mental health.

    However, the momentous new release, to be marked by launch events all over the globe and starting in Melbourne, provides comprehensive new evidence that actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change have significant direct and indirect positive health benefits.

    Six years on from the 2009 report, the new multidisciplinary and international Commission draws on experts from a range of fields, including public health; climate science; geography; ecology; engineering; economics; political science; and public policy.

    They conclude that many mitigation and adaption responses to climate change are "no regrets policies" that are possible right now, and accrue health co-benefits.

    In particular, the report cites health and economic gains from reduced air pollution and transition to sustainable cities that promote healthy lifestyles.

    It recommends rapidly phasing out coal as part of an early and decisive policy package aimed at reducing the health burden of particulate matter and other air pollutants.

    Moreover, the development of energy efficient buildings; low cost active transport; and green urban spaces will not only clean up the air we breath, but will also reduce road traffic accidents, obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke.

    The report emphasises that achieving a decarbonised global economy, and the associated public health benefits, is no longer a technical or economic question, but rather it is now a political one.

    In the lead up to the pivotal UN climate negotiations in Paris this December this report calls for bold political commitment.

    Echoing this call for action are leading health and medical groups in Australia who have welcomed the new publication.

    The Nossal Institute for Global Health, Australian Medical Association (Victoria), Public Health Association of Australia (Victoria), the Australian Medical Students Association, the Climate and Health Alliance and the Melbourne Sustainable Societies Institute are cohosting a forum in Melbourne, with Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty set to launch the publication in Australia.

    Australian National University, the Royal Australian College of Physicians, University of Western Australia, the Climate Council, and Adelaide University are all hosting events in the following days and months.

    With the Australian government expected to release its revised emission reduction targets in mid-July, time will soon tell if our leaders will hear the calls from health professionals.

    The solutions are available and effective.

    Health communities around the globe agree that we can, and must, act now to protect our health now and into the future.

    Source: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2015/06/23/powerful-publishers-pushing-for-action-on-climate-change-locally-and-globally/

  • Climate mitigation - the greatest public health opportunity of our time

    by Fiona Armstrong via The Conversation

     

    Cutting emissions will limit health damages and bring about important health improvements. Pedro Ribeiro Simes/Flickr, CC BY[/caption] Tackling climate change is the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century, a team of 60 international experts today declared in a special report for The Lancet medical journal. The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate report comes six years after the groundbreaking first Commission report “ a collaboration between The Lancet and University College London “ which described climate change as the "biggest global health threat of the 21st century". The latest report shows many mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change can directly reduce the burden of ill health, boost community resilience, and lessen poverty and inequity. In particular, switching to clean renewable energy sources, energy-efficient buildings and active transport options will reduce air pollution and have flow-on health benefits. This includes reducing rates of heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, mental illness and respiratory disease. The commission also reveals these health co-benefits associated with emissions reduction strategies offer extraordinary value for money. The financial savings associated with avoided ill-health and productivity gains can outstrip the costs of implementing emissions-reduction strategies “ if they are carefully designed.

    What if we wait?

    The commission makes it plain we cannot afford to wait. There are limits to the level and rate of warming humans and other species can adapt to. With "just" 0.85°C warming since the pre-industrial era, many predicted health threats around the world have become real. Long, intense heatwaves and other extreme weather events such as storms, floods, fires and drought are having direct health impacts. The impacts on ecosystems affects health indirectly, through agricultural losses, as well as contributing to spread of disease.

    Mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change can directly reduce the burden of ill health. Vaclav Volrab/Shutterstock Climate change is affecting economies and social structures, which also cause health impacts, particularly when associated with forced migration and conflict. Given the risks of climate change-induced "regional collapse, famine and war", the commission notes mitigation-focused investment "would seem to be the prudent priority at a global level".

    How does this affect Australians?

    Climate change is driving record temperatures in Australia, with heatwaves now hotter, longer and more frequent. People die from heat exposure during these events. Many others seek medical attention, leading to massive surges in demand for ambulances, emergency services, and health-care services. Deaths from heatwaves in Australian cities are expected to double in the next 40 years. Hotter summers are leading to more bush fires, which cause injuries and fatalities. People lose their homes and businesses. Communities lose schools and health care. After bush fires, communities also face a higher rate of general illness, increased in alcohol and drug abuse, and more mental illness. Extreme rainfall and cyclones cause direct fatalities and injuries. Floods and cyclones can severely affect health care services. In 2011, floods in Queensland caused the cancellation of 1,396 surgical cases, increasing waiting times for vital procedures by 73%. Rising temperatures are leading to increases in deadly foodborne illnesses, disruptions to food production and water security, and worsening air quality, increasing respiratory illnesses. Finally, infectious diseases are becoming more common, as are vector-borne diseases such as Ross River fever and zoonotic diseases, which are spread from animals to humans.

    What does the future hold?

    The report notes that since the first commission six years ago, emissions have risen beyond the "worst case scenario". Without mitigation, the authors warn "large-scale disruptions to the climate system" (not currently included in climate modelling and impact assessments) could "trigger a discontinuity in the long-term progression of humanity". In lay terms, they mean "wipe us out". At the very least, or at least put another way, the authors suggest likely temperature rises may be "incompatible with an organised global community".

    A prescription for action

    Cutting emissions, the commission says, will limit health damages, as well as bring important health improvements associated with improved air quality, increased mobility from better public transport, and better physical and mental health from greener spaces and more energy efficient homes. There is no need to wait. The commission says it is technically feasible to transition to low-carbon infrastructure now. The technologies have been available for at least 40 years, and some since the 19th century.

    The financial savings associated with avoided ill-health and productivity gains can outstrip the costs of implementing emissions-reduction strategies. TCDavis/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND There is potentially significant economic savings associated with the health benefits of climate policies. One study suggests savings from avoided ill-health arising from the implementation of an emissions trading scheme could return up to ten times the cost of implementation. Policies to achieve this must include carbon pricing, the commission argues “ either carbon taxes or emission trading schemes. Where these are not appropriate, it recommends taxes on energy products. Feed-in tariffs (for electricity fed back to the grid) should drive renewable energy deployment, while perverse subsidies to fossil fuels should be abolished. A key recommendation is the rapid phase out of coal “ part of "an early and decisive policy package" to target emissions from the transport, agriculture and energy sectors.

    Timing is everything

    In order to have a 66% likelihood of limiting global warming to less than 2°C, the remaining global carbon budget will be used up in the next 13 to 24 years. As all good health professionals know, treatment is of most value when it addresses the cause “ in this case, largely fossil fuels. Scaling of low-carbon technologies policy options is vital. The commission doesn't spell this out, but in order for global emissions to begin to fall, we must use our remaining carbon budget to make the switch to low-carbon technologies and resources. Doing so will create many new jobs, and help avoid expensive adaptation costs.

    Questions for Australia

    The Lancet commission makes a clear case for climate action based on health benefits alone. This raises important questions for the Australian government, which abolished the carbon price, wound back policies to support renewable energy, and committed to supporting coal as an energy source: Why is it failing to protect the health of Australians from this very serious threat? And why are the health benefits associated with climate policies not being factored into policy decisions, given the billions of dollars in savings for health budgets? Australians should themselves be asking these questions, but at least now we know the Commission will also be listening for the answers. Source: https://theconversation.com/climate-mitigation-the-greatest-public-health-opportunity-of-our-time-43549

  • Do you have the Power to Persuade? A workshop on building knowledge and capacity for policy change

    By Fiona Armstrong How to translate research evidence into policy? What research methodologies offer the best results for social policy outcomes? How can researchers, policymakers and the third sector work together to deliver better results for people and communities? How do we create policy networks that can be adaptive, resilient and flexible enough to respond to the significant societal challenges we face? The Power to Persuade forum hosted by University of Melbourne and Good Shepherd on Wednesday 5th September 2012 brought together researchers, service providers, policymakers and policy advocates to discuss some of these questions to build a better collective understanding of the necessary elements of effective social policy outcomes. Transforming governance Keynote speaker Mark Considine acknowledged the need for transformational change in public policy development, and proposed the establishment of civil society governance networks, built on "deep partnerships" between institutions and other actors, and guided by judicial bureaucratic mandates, may provide a model for the kind of societal leadership that can fill the gaps currently created by the 'short termism' endemic in current political governance. Considine pointed to complex policy challenges such as climate change, food insecurity and people movement, suggesting that the capacity for transformational change needed to address these issues may not reside in existing institutions, and if we are to avoid disruption and upheaval triggered by environmental shock, new governance networks are needed. Building the sorts of partnerships required for adaptive resilient policy responses can begin through, for example, data sharing, pooled budgets and shared research, to build trust and common goals - and these smaller steps can lead to deeper ties over time that can better manage and respond to transformational change. Economics and policy decision-making Economist Alan Sheill spoke about the harsh realities of having to determine priorities in health and how economics can provide important insights about cost: benefit ratios to inform decision-making. While for health and welfare professionals, service providers and policymakers this is a challenging dimension of social policy, Shiell says: "we do not have enough resources (time, finances, space etc) to do everything we would wish to do to promote health and social well-being - therefore we need to choose". However, economic evidence is not always necessary, not does it always inform policy decision-making, Friell said, pointing out that very often, the public and politicians are not aware of the economic cost of political decisions. It was important for social policy advocates to use the rhetoric of economic costs to build support for actions, but recognize that economic analysis does not always reflect broader social benefits and there is a need to develop research methods that can incorporate less easily quantifiable health and social wellbeing gains from social policy initiatives. Methodologies and case studies Other speakers outlined case studies and research methodologies that offer powerful and effective examples of social policy innovation, such as J2SI, a long term program for homelessness. Damon Alexander shared some insights into the benefits of Social Network Analysis, a research method that is being used in multiple ways eg to map strategic information networks to evaluate innovation in government, look at information flows of strategic advice within primary care partnerships, and understand formal and informal relationships within organisations. Social network analysis was a powerful tool for understanding relationships between actors in a particular policy environment, and mapping "what" happens and "when" but not so much about "how" or "why"¦ Other case studies included great examples of participatory rights based methodologies from Karen Dowling from the Victorian Department of Education on ˜Listen 2 Learners'; and Leo Fieldgrass from the Brotherhood of St Lawrence on ˜Mobile Matters'. Final word John Falzon from St Vincent de Paul responded to this session, and spoke about the exceptionally important job of engaging with community and with people in developing social policy, finished with a poetic warning from Martin Luther King in saying: "A riot is at best the language of the unheard." Like all good modern events, the Twitter stream provided insight into people's thinking. You can search for some of the twitter stream on the forum by using the hash tag: #powertopersuade - a small sample is reproduced here: Dean Lombard?@vcossDean Evidence is important, but clearly not enough. Plenty evidence of the social harm of problem gambling; but still no change #powertopersuade Philip Wallis?@philipwallis Hearing from @KazzaD1 about using social media for student participation in policy development #powertopersuade   John Falzon?@JohnFalzon The question has been posed: who should we be trying to persuade? #powertopersuade #powertothepeople nyunkia tauss?@nyunkiatauss In effective system, all doors shd be the right door, whether it's for people in dire need or not. Great concept @vcossdean #powertopersuade Karen Dowling?@KazzaD1 Kathy Landvogt, Good Shepherd at #PowertoPersuade used SNA to look at effectivenss of financial services 4 ppl needing help.'No wrong door' GSY&FS Advocacy?@GoodAdvocacy How do you know you are making a difference? Using health economics to measure outcomes #powertopersuade Marie McInerney?@mariemcinerney Great insights into challenges and promise of Sacred Heart Mission's J2SI chronic homelessness research proj #powertopersuade - stay tuned. CAHA Inc?@healthy_climate Economist Alan Shiell: valuable health interventions via unexpected approaches eg reduce HIV through micro financing #powertopersuade

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