While the world struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, the accelerating health crisis, induced by the climate emergency, requires our even more urgent attention. No country – much more so for a poor than a rich country – is immune from the health impacts of climate change. People around the world face increasing extremes of heat, food and water insecurity, and changing patterns of infectious and chronic diseases. Unless urgent action is taken, the health impacts of the climate emergency will bring further disruption, threaten lives and livelihoods and compromise the health systems we depend on.
The COVID-19 pandemic and climate emergency represent converging crises. At the same time, climate emergency and epidemiological changes share common drivers. It is imperative that these emergencies are addressed in a comprehensive manner, while acknowledging public health needs, inequalities and historic injustices.
Be-cause health, a Belgian platform for international health, will organise its annual international conference on 23 and 24th November 2021, both in in Brussels and online. This year’s conference will look at the pathways and interrelations through which the climate emergency may impact health outcomes. The annual international conference brings together Belgian and international development and health professionals, NGOs and academic researchers.
We invite interested stakeholders to submit (scientific) abstracts on recent (research) findings, case studies or stories that show how
- their organisations and their partners are impacted by the climate emergency and how they address this in their health activities and programs (day 1); and
- transformation could be enabled especially towards a circular and socially just economic system, that respects the planetary boundaries (day 2).
Deadline to submit is 10 September 2021 – 5pm, Brussels time (UTC+2).
Depending on the COVID-19 regulations that apply at the time of the conference, speakers will be able to join the conference physically or online.
COVID-19 made us inventive in looking for ways to meet each other. For a network as Be-cause health, hybrid forms of conferences create great opportunities to engage more participation from our partners in low- and middle-income countries and emit less carbon. We will experiment with this hybrid format as a pilot for future conferences. Given the urgent need to halt the climate emergency, we ask speakers to limit air travel to the absolute minimum.
Use this submission form for each separate submission, and choose one of the following topics (not exhaustive).
DAY 1 – Findings, case studies or abstracts that show how organisations involved in international health cooperation and their partners are impacted by the climate emergency and how they address this in their health activities and programmes.
Topic 1: Food security and malnutrition
- food production and access to food: drought, changing rainfall patterns, malnutrition and famine distribution (history and geography and the role of (geo)politics);
- NCDs linked to food insecurity and undernutrition;
Topic 2: Climate-sensitive diseases
- vector behaviour and distribution (malaria, dengue,…);
- waterborne diseases ((coastal) cholera,…);
- new diseases (infectious (Ebola, COVID,…), NCDs linked to pollution and other modified living conditions,…);
Topic 3: Health and heat
- vulnerability to the extremes of heat;
- exposure of vulnerable populations to heatwaves;
- heat-related mortality;
- change in labour capacity;
Topic 4: Biodiversity and health
- livestock changes and impacts on zoonotic exposure and environment management;
- natural resources and health risks: deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity depletion, …;
- human-wildlife interface: bush meat consumption, land encroachment, …;
- collaborative management at human-animal-environment interface (One Health/ Ecohealth);
- ecosystem services and nature-based solutions for health to adapt to climate change
Topic 5: People movement: refugees, displacement and rising sea levels, economic migration, tourism
- linked to violence: local, regional, international conflict, management of natural resources (water, land, forest,…), politics and management, …;
- linked to climate related ‘Natural’ catastrophes (extreme weather events): wildfires, hurricanes, floods, droughts, …;
- impact of not climate related ‘Natural’ catastrophes: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis,…;
- impact of tourism on climate change and risks for health;
Topic 6: Demographic pressure
- expanding populations versus reducing agricultural potential
- urbanization and insecurity linked to climatic events;
Topic 7: Inclusion of vulnerable populations
- migrants, indigenous groups, persons with disabilities,…
Topic 8: Decolonisation
- persistent development of unsustainable economic activities
- HIC determined agenda for fighting climate emergencies
Topic 9: Mental Health
- ecoanxiety vs taking action: how the climate emergency narratives shape emotions
- climate emergency and social cohesion (eg. heat and violence, …)
- traumatic experiences and grief: which care for climate consequences on wellbeing?
- climate emergency impact on persons with lived experiences and mental health services
Any other topic of relevance
DAY 2 – Findings, case studies or stories that show how transformation could be enabled, especially towards a circular and socially just economic system, that respects the planetary boundaries, is required.
Topic 10: Focus on transformation: health systems, equity and remaining within planetary boundaries
- In which domains do we want to transform?
- How do we harness the diversity of knowledge and perspectives?
- How do we inspire a wide citizen participation crossing social strata and generations?
Topic 11: Indigenous communities and local resilience and alternative strategies to the climate emergency
- indigenous knowledge as inspiration;
Topic 12: How to raise awareness and be activist as a health actor?
- What is our responsibility? What does the right to health mean for our struggle against the climate emergency? What is the role of health professionals and services in the fight against the climate emergency?
Topic 13: How can we manage information and infodemics?
A complex and sensitive balancing act between activism on the one hand and denial of scientific reality and conspiracy theories on the other.
Topic 14: Dealing with the challenges of Day 1: emergency preparation, water supply, access to health care, …
- food security and malnutrition;
- climate-sensitive infectious diseases;
- health and heat;
- biodiversity and health risks;
- people movement;
- demographic pressure;
- inclusion of vulnerable populations;
- impact on health systems;
Any other topic of relevance