WHO support to policy developments on adaptation to climate change in the European Union

In a joint initiative begun in 2008, "Climate, Environment and Health Action Plan and Information System (CEHAPIS)", WHO/Europe and the European Commission assessed health risks from climate change and identified policy options to address them. The resulting evidence and recommendations underpin the health component of a new European Union (EU) strategy on climate change as well as the accompanying Commission document "Adaptation to climate change impacts on human, animal and plant health". These documents reinforce international recognition of health as an essential component in adapting to climate change.

Health risks from climate change in Europe

The primary concerns identified by the CEHAPIS project are growing risks from heat-waves and extreme precipitation events, changes in the distribution of vector-borne diseases, an increase in food- and waterborne diseases and air pollution.

Priority areas for policy

WHO-coordinated evidence reviews and expert consultations have identified 3 key tasks to protect health from climate change in the EU:

  • integrating health into policies for climate change adaptation and mitigation in other sectors; 
  • integrating climate change into policies and action for public health; and
  • increasing awareness of and intelligence on climate change and health.

The various policy options are mutually dependent and complementary, with co-implementation producing a cumulative positive effect.