Climate change represents one of the greatest threats to human health and wellbeing in the 21st century

Today, on World Health Day, the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences has released a statement on the health impacts of climate change.

A growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates unequivocally the risks of a warming climate, revealing potentially devastating health impacts on the people of Australia, our region, and the world. This is no distant threat to population health—it is already happening and will continue to worsen as global temperatures rise.

The Academy’s statement highlights the importance of health in climate policy, and equally climate change in health policy. It outlines steps the health and medical research sector can take to mitigate current and future threats to the health of Australians, including:

  • Promoting recognition among decision-makers that climate change is a major and urgent Australian health issue with implications for health equity.
  • Delivering health and medical research that further advances knowledge of the direct and indirect health impacts of climate change and enables monitoring and management of these impacts.
  • Supporting cross-sector, interdisciplinary and ecological investigations that will bring about health co-benefits and prevent disease and debility resulting from the causes of climate change.
  • Collaborating with First Nations communities and experts to learn from Indigenous knowledge practices that can inform Australia’s path forward and ensuring First Nations voices are amplified in each of the areas above.

This statement was developed based on a series of roundtable and interviews over two years, bringing together Fellows and collaborators with that  broad expertise and experience on:

  • The Australian bushfires and the impact on health
  • Delivering fully sustainable healthcare
  • Action on climate change and health – identifying key threats and blockages
  • Taking action on the health impacts of climate change – a path forward for Australia
  • Climate change, health, and First Nations knowledge practices.

The AAHMS Climate Change and Health Steering Committee has guided the Academy’s work on this topic and the Academy would like to thank all those who contributed. The Academy’s full statement and associated media release are available below. 

Download the full statement below or read the media release