ENBEL - Conference on connecting health and climate change
Taking place in Stockholm on 11-12th October the ENBEL transdisciplinary conference brought together researchers, policy makers, NGOs and private sector representatives to present and discuss climate change effects on health, as well as adaptation, societal consequences, and opportunities for climate resilient development. One of the main objects of the EU-funded project is to enhance collaboration between health, environmental and climate research.
As one of the opening speakers, Jan Fuglestvedt (vice-chair IPCC Working Group III) reminded the audience of the main findings in the 6th IPCC assessment report and how the link between climate change and health is addressed. The report includes solid evidence base on many existing and increasing health risks, but Fuglesvedt also pointed at the opportunities to improve public health while trying to mitigate climate change. Air quality improvement is a well-known example of climate mitigation strategy and health co-benefit, but more research is needed on the shift to sustainable diets.
Climate change threatens maternal and infant health
Several researchers that were presenting their recent findings highlighted the vulnerability of pregnant women, the developing foetus as well as infants. Heat or rising temperatures, as well as air pollution are associated with various obstetric and perinatal outcomes. Amanda Sturm and Ida Persson have been working together with docotoral student Daniel Helldén and Professor Tobias Alfvén, Global Public Health at Karolinska Institutet, on a scoping review on the impacts of climate change during pregnancy, delivery and postnatal period, which was presented during the poster sessions.
In the evening, there was a surprise from the organizing team as the visitors were invited to try Swedish folk dancing (schottis). During the course of the conference, many new and interesting connections were made. In the finishing session, participants discussed upcoming research efforts and looked forward to future collaborations. Several members of the panels, the organizing team, and visitors also pressed that although adapting to climate change is necessary, mitigation efforts are crucial and urgent.