Regional Director attends Environment and Health Ministerial Board (EHMB) meeting in Azerbaijan

At its third meeting, EHMB agreed that an environment and health gateway, an on-line knowledge repository and information portal, will be developed. The meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Environment of Azerbaijan, concluded on 16 November 2012.

The gateway will provide countries with evidence, tools, methods and resources that can help them take action on environment and health priorities.

Speaking at the meeting, Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, stated, “The diversity that exists in the Region in terms of the burden of disease attributable to different environmental risk factors, of capacities and resources to address them, and of public perceptions challenges the notion of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ set of priorities. … This diversity and complexity call for the development of a flexible portfolio of practical actions that can be tailored by Member States and international partners to fit their specific interests and needs. This would make the best possible use of existing mechanisms and opportunities for collaboration.”  

EHMB agenda

EHMB discussed key priorities in environment and health in the WHO European Region and the policy context in which the European environment and health process (EHP) operates. Health 2020, the new European health policy framework adopted by the Region’s 53 Member States, and the sustainable development process following the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) provide the wider policy environment for EHP.

In addition, EHMB:

  • agreed to involve young people from the newly formed European Environment and Health Youth Coalition as observers;
  • adopted a communication strategy; and
  • began preparing to report – to the WHO Regional Committee for Europe and the Committee on Environmental Policy of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in 2013 – on progress made in implementing the Parma Declaration on Environment and Health. 

EHMB’s membership will change in 2013. The UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy will appoint four new environment ministers as of January, and the Regional Committee will appoint four new health ministers in September.

EHMB will hold its next meeting in April 2013.