Environment, health, peace… Everything is related by Emmanuel Drouet

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Although they are responsible for the majority of COtwo, the industrialized powers will not be the most affected by global warming, according to an old study (2013) from the University of Notre-Dame, in the United States. The index used by its authors, the “ND-Gain”, summarizes a country’s vulnerability to climate change (calculated according to different criteria: access to food, health, habitats, water management, infrastructure, adaptation capacity, exposure to ups and downs of global warming) and their ability to quickly overcome the resulting disasters (economic and social or in terms of governance).

Ten countries (out of twenty-one at high risk) combine very high exposure to the consequences of global warming (desertification, drought, sea level rise) and are poorly prepared to deal with them. Also among the poorest: Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Sudan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Ethiopia.

In this ranking, France is ranked 166Y square. Our country is therefore less exposed and much better prepared. However, some of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies are also expected to be affected: India (20Y), Pakistan (24Y) and Vietnam (26Y), in the “extreme risk” category, as well as Indonesia (38Y), Thailand (45Y) and China (61Y), classified as “high risk”. More than 4.5 billion people (about 64% of the world’s population) live in these exposed countries and this number could exceed 5 billion by 2025.

For a number of years, the ten high-risk countries we have listed have hosted UN peacekeeping and special political missions, responding to conflict and other underlying tensions and insecurities. In fact, environmental degradation and climate change not only have negative effects on poverty levels, economic growth, food security and public health, but also generate resource scarcity and increased conflict. Remember that in 2007 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former US Vice President Al Gore.

The countries most at risk are among the poorest and most conflict-prone.

It is now recognized that when environmental and climatic conditions reach emergency levels, they exacerbate conflict and hamper peace efforts by promoting instability and displacement, which in turn makes it difficult to access public services, with devastating consequences. for public health, as evidenced by the “burden of disease” observed in conflict situations.

The World Health Organization has already launched a “Health and Peace” program. Interpeace, an international peacebuilding organization based in Geneva, works with the WHO and UN member states to improve the quality of health responses in emergency and conflict situations around the world (1). There is growing recognition of the value of deliberately focusing, when responding to health and climate emergencies, on building social resilience. But also about the importance of strengthening health systems and responding to environmental crises through context-specific systemic, organizational and individual changes.

The Geneva Health Forum (GHF) takes place from May 3 to 5, 2022, bringing together key players working to provide solutions to global health challenges. This annual symposium will discuss the links between unequal access to health services in environmental emergencies and the emergence of violent conflict. Lack of trust or social cohesion, misinformation and weak governance hamper reconciliation efforts. The efforts deployed within the framework of the “One Health” initiative are an example of how the issues of peace, health and the environment are already linked. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, remembered it this way: “There can be no health without peace, nor peace without health. »

for Emmanuel Drout Microbiologist at the Faculty of Pharmacy of Grenoble.

(1) Interpeace works with a wide range of international actors to address threats and opportunities at the intersection of climate change and peace.

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