Joining forces on climate change and NCD prevention in Sydney

Two hot topics came under the spotlight at an IDF-led international gathering in Sydney, Australia. On 5-7 May, the University of Sydney hosted a Worldwide University Network (WUN) Workshop to explore links between Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) prevention and aspects of climate change. IDF co-hosted the event, with IDF Vice-President Ruth Colagiuri heading the proceedings.

NCDs, including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disease account for 60% of the global burden of disease, increasingly burdening low- and middle-income countries. At the same time climate change continues to increase, with the related increase in air pollution, malnutrition and extreme weather events. These are two devastating and urgent development challenges of the 21st century. Evidence is emerging that NCDs and climate change share common risk factors and solutions, including changing patterns of production and consumption underlie the emergence of NCDs and climate change, and threaten attainment of sustainable development goals. Action to tackle carbon emissions such as well-designed towns and cities, good public transport and food systems also encourage physical activity and healthy foods, simultaneously reducing the risk of diabetes and related NCDs.

Experts at the workshop in Sydney discussed the links between these two global challenges, and the opportunities for an integrated approach to improve global health and protect people from the effects of climate change. The workshop agreed on a position statement summarising the research agenda and the actions required to bridge legal and public health policy development on NCDs and climate change.

IDF will incorporate the key messages from the workshop into advocacy efforts in the lead up to the first-ever UN High-Level Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in September 2011. The Summit will be the first time world leaders have met to discuss the scale of the NCD epidemic and agree on measurable commitments to accelerate progress combat it. Multi-sectoral action and leadership is one of the key asks IDF is calling for at the UN Summit, and this workshop on NCDs and climate change is an important step forward in showcasing new partnerships and collaborations across sectors. Improving coordination could be key to putting the planet back on a healthy and sustainable path.