Covid Responses Could Help Fight Climate Change

As the COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed health systems worldwide, a new report brings together low-carbon and climate-resilient health solutions that can help protect the planet and individuals against future threats.

The report, COVID-19 and Climate-Smart Health Care: Health Sector Opportunities for Synergistic Response to the COVID-19 and Climate Crises, provides a framework based on lessons from the global COVID-19 health response to help countries build stronger health systems and leapfrog toward climate-smart universal health coverage (UHC). UHC allows countries to make the most of their human capital, ensuring that people have access to the health care they need without suffering financial hardship.

The pandemic has shown the need for strong health systems as a foundation for health emergency preparedness and to address the growing health impacts of climate change. Vulnerable populations such as the elderly, people with pre-existing health conditions, ethnic minorities, and indigenous groups, as well as poor people who are at higher risk for COVID-19 infections, are expected to be amongst those bearing the brunt of the health impacts of climate change.

“While the ongoing COVID-19 crisis presents significant global health challenges, the pandemic also presents opportunities to build resilient climate-smart health systems against future shocks,” said Juan Pablo Uribe, Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population, World Bank.

According to the report, which was produced by the World Bank and the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), countries that have integrated their response to COVID-19 and the climate crisis have been able to find lower-carbon and more climate-resilient solutions that are beneficial not just to health systems, but also the environment. A few examples:

  • In India, a climate-resilient, solar powered COVID-19 facility for testing, isolation, and treatment was built to provide better insulation, natural lighting, 24/7 power, and improve healthcare quality.
  • In Yemen, strengthening disease surveillance to combat COVID-19 has helped reduce climate impacts using the country’s Electronic Integrated Disease Early Warning System (eIDEWS).
  • In The Gambia, moving from incineration to more sustainable microwave healthcare waste technologies in response to COVID-19 has reduced the carbon footprint of the sector.
  • In Colombia, more sustainable procurement policies made it easier to respond to COVID-19.
  • In Ghana, building a sustainable vaccine cold chain has enabled an effective response to the pandemic while still honoring commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement.

“This report serves as a roadmap for our response to both health and climate crises,” said Mafalda Duarte, Chief Executive Officer, Climate Investment Funds. “Addressing these issues will not only improve health outcomes, but also enhance the resilience of communities to future climate-related challenges.”

To access the new report Climate-Smart Health Care: Health Sector Opportunities for Synergistic Response to the COVID-19 and Climate Crises, please click here.

World Bank Group Response to COVID-19

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has deployed over $157 billion to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history. The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery. The Bank is also supporting over 60 low- and middle-income countries, more than half of which are in Africa, with the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, and is making available $20 billion in financing for this purpose until the end of 2022.

About CIF

The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) was established in 2008 to mobilize resources and trigger investments for low-carbon, climate-resilient development in select low and middle-income countries. 14 contributor countries have pledged up to $10.5 billion to the Funds. To date, committed CIF capital has generated an additional $61 billion in co-financing for mitigation and adaptation interventions at scale in 72 recipient countries. CIF is one of the largest active climate finance mechanisms in the world. Visit https://www.climateinvestmentfunds.org.

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