The European Commission and the European Environment Agency launched the new European Climate and Health Observatory to keep EU healthy in a changing climate. This observatory will “understand, anticipate and minimise the health threats caused by climate change”. Especially the threats caused by extreme weather events and biodiversity loss, the emergence and spread of new infectious diseases or threats to food and water safety.
There are clear warnings that the climate crisis is also an impending health emergency. Climate change is already having an impact on people’s health and health systems, both directly and indirectly. More frequent and intense extreme weather events such as heatwaves, wildfires, floods and landslides, as well as food and water safety and security threats and the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, could all generate serious health risks and amplify existing health problems.
To understand, anticipate and minimise the health threats caused by climate change, the European Commission and the European Environment Agency, together with other key players in the field, have set up the new European Climate and Health Observatory. Based on a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach, it aims to co-create, connect, pool and provide the knowledge, expertise and tools required to tackle the health challenges related to climate change.
Climate expert debates New EU strategy on adaptation to climate change
EU strategy on adaptation to climate change
The new observatory is also the very first concrete deliverable of the new EU strategy on adaptation to climate change, published on 24 February 2021. It supports the EU Green Deal aspiration to ‘protect the health and wellbeing of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts’. It will help improve the preparedness of health systems and coordination of health crises. These are the core elements of the Commission’s proposal for a European Health Union. The launch of the observatory also reflects recommendations made by the Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.
EEA member countries are at different stages of preparing, developing and implementing national adaptation strategies and plans, including the consideration of health-related aspects in them. Countries are also at different stages in considering climate change aspects in their national and -where appropriate- subnational health policies. The country profiles provide a brief overview of the state of climate change adaptation in public health.
The European Climate and Health Observatory (‘Observatory’)
The European Climate and Health Observatory (‘Observatory’) is a partnership between the European Commission, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and several other organisations. It contributes to the European Green Deal and the EU4Health vision for a healthier European Union.
The European Climate and Health Observatory follows the orders jointly by the European Commission and the EEA. The Observatory is maintained by the EEA as part of the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT) with the support of the European Topic Centre on Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation (ETC/CCA). The European Climate and Health Observatory covers the 38 EEA member and cooperating countries (as of 1 February 2020).
The European Climate and Health Observatory aims to support Europe in preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change on human health. It provides access to relevant information and tools. It also fosters information exchange and cooperation between relevant international, European, national and non-governmental actors.
EU4Health vision for a healthier European Health Union
The European Climate and Health Observatory provides access to the following types of information. They are all related to climate and human health in Europe:
- European and national policy context
- Impacts of climate change on health in Europe
- Indicators on climate and health
- Information systems and tools on climate and health
- Early warning systems on climate and health
EU Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA)
The European Climate and Health Observatory also includes a searchable Resource Catalogue. It provides access to further relevant quality-controlled resources, including:
- Publications and reports
- Research and knowledge projects
- Guidance material
- Information portals
Users could propose relevant items (e.g. new publications) for inclusion in the Observatory’s Resource Catalogue.
The European Climate and Health Observatory intends to publish an annual report on climate change and health in Europe. It will be in cooperation between the EEA and the Lancet Countdown.
The pilot version of the European Climate and Health Observatory has been launched in March 2021. It came jointly with the adoption of a new EU strategy on adaptation to climate change. The Observatory is going further in cooperation with its partners and European countries.
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