Your Excellency Khaled Abdel Ghaffar,
Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,
It is my great honour to welcome you to the opening ceremony of the COP27 Health Pavilion – and I’m sorry that I can’t be with you in person.
For the second year in a row, WHO and our partners are proud to host the Health Pavilion, to elevate the voice of the health community in climate discussions.
For too long, health has been the forgotten child of climate discussions.
That was until last year, when for the first time the United Kingdom included health in the COP programme as part of its presidency.
We’re delighted that Egypt has followed that precedent by including health in the COP27 programme.
For this year’s health pavilion, we have collaborated with a group of talented artists who have created a unique sculpture in the shape of human lungs.
I thank the artists for this provocative work, which I hope will help to draw attention to the impact of air pollution and climate change on human health.
I also thank our partner the Wellcome Trust for its financial and technical support for the Health Pavilion, and for this sculpture.
There is a native American proverb that says the frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives.
And yet that is exactly what we are doing to the planet on which our very existence depends.
The global addiction to fossil fuels is not just an act of vandalism; it’s an act of self-sabotage.
The emissions we pump into the air are suffocating us, and making our planet less fit for human habitation.
Climate change presents the health sector with a triple challenge:
First, the challenge of dealing with the increasing burden of climate-fuelled disease;
Second, the challenge of building climate-resilient health systems that can withstand more frequent and severe weather events;
And third, the challenge of building net zero, climate-friendly health systems, while at the same time ensuring that all health facilities have a reliable and clean source of energy.
More than 60 countries have now committed to building climate-resilient and climate-friendly health systems.
Egypt, the UK and WHO are also working together to promote the newly established Alliance on Transformative Action on Climate and Health, to accelerate action on climate change and health in countries.
My thanks once again to Egypt for its leadership as President of COP27, and to all of you for your commitment to a healthier, safer, fairer and greener future.
I wish you all a very healthy and successful COP.