NDF - Financing for climate change and development projects

Helsinki seminar reviews opportunities to address the health impacts of climate change

Photo: NDF
From left: Pasi Hellman, NDF, James Close, the World Bank, Maria Neira, WHO
From left: Pasi Hellman, NDF, James Close, the World Bank, Maria Neira, WHO

Climate-health linkages are rapidly emerging as a focus area for development finance. A seminar co-hosted by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Helsinki on 19-20 May 2016 brought together health experts and development financers to map out the way forward.

The Helsinki seminar attracted 54 experts representing major development banks, aid agencies, foundations, universities and NGOs, as well as the host organisations.

Under the theme Early experiences in multi-sectoral climate change and health work for international development: opportunities and finance, participants shared their experiences and discussed opportunities for donors to address climate-related health challenges. There was widespread agreement that a crucial turning point has now been reached, where the emphasis must shift away from building evidence on climate-health linkages to the funding and implementation of the necessary actions at scale.

NDF’s managing director Pasi Hellman felt that the seminar signified an important step forward by bringing the health and financial communities closer together in a positive spirit of collaboration. He particularly emphasised the need to apply cross-sectoral approaches, in addition to boosting the capacity of health systems. “Many development activities in fields such as energy, agriculture, water management or sanitation, have such direct and tangible health implications that it’s worth developing a more systematic approach to tackle these issues more coherently – not least because many low-hanging fruits are available in the form of improved health outcomes attainable through small investments,” he said.

Participants envisaged plenty of opportunities to upscale and replicate best practices devised for projects reviewed during the seminar, including an NDF-backed project in Mozambique that is testing the World Bank’s new global approach for addressing the health impacts of climate change across key sectors.

Olusoji Adeyi, Director of Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice at the World Bank, emphasised that the World Bank has resolved to scale up actions and investments linking two issues that top the World Bank’s list of priorities: universal health care and climate change. “Since health is a major contributor to development, considering climate change in health care will greatly improve wider development outcomes as well as health systems,” he said. “We will continue to mainstream climate issues in our health, nutrition and population programmes, and increase the climate-sensitivity of bank-funded operations, while also seeking out new funding mechanisms.”   

Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, an expert from the World Health Organisation, led a panel session examining how different development partners can effectively use their resources, knowhow and comparative advantages collaboratively. He emphasised that climate change is already being seen as the defining issue for public health in the 21st century, encompassing health concerns including exacerbated heat stress, air pollution and vector-borne diseases, as well as problems caused by extreme weather events.

“The whole issue of climate change and health has gone from marginal to mainstream, and we already have a clear evidence base and a political mandate for action, as well as substantial experience gained through pilot projects. It’s now time to define what must be done to scale up investment,” he said. 

Participants in the Helsinki seminar highlighted the benefits of creating a five-year road map on the issue to steer collaboration between key actors. The World Health Assembly, held this week (23-28 July 2016) in Geneva has also highlighted the importance of multi-sectoral action on climate-health linkages; while the WHO’s forthcoming Second Global Conference on Health & Climate, to be held in Paris 7-8 July 2016, should also generate further momentum on this vital issue.

 Key conclusions of the Helsinki seminar:

  • Enough has been learnt from research and pilot projects to shift from building the evidence base to the implementation of actions at scale. 
  • Climate data must be better used in health systems’ short-term planning and long-term strategic programming. 
  • Broad-based partnerships with multi-sectoral approaches must be built up to address wide-ranging issues such as air pollution and the spread of infectious diseases.  
  • Capacity to address climate-health challenges must be built up at all levels. 
  • Political will must be generated by raising awareness of climate-health issues. 
  • While funding for climate-health actions as such must be upscaled, health investments should also increasingly be screened for their climate sensitivity, and health impacts must be considered more in climate investments.  

Material related to the seminar:

Conference Report


19 May 2016 - Climate change and health in programs and projects

  1. Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum - WHO - The impacts and opportunities of climate change and health
  2. Prof. Andy Haines - London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - Where we are now and how we got here
  3. Prof. Kristie Ebi - University of Washington - Opportunities for health adaptation
  4. Dr. Sari Kovats - London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - Adaptation in climate change and health
  5. Dr. Carlos Dora - WHO - Opportunities for mitigation and adaptation in LMICs
  6. Dr. Olusoji Adeyi, Director - World Bank - Building an approach to investing in climate change and health
  7. Mr. Josh Karliner - Health Care Without Harm - Toward low carbon health care
  8. Prof. Madeleine Thomson-Columbia University -Dimensions of climate and health risks and opportunities
  9. Dr. Montserrat Meiro-Lorenzo - World Bank Group - Multisectoral approaches
  10. Prof. Jouni Jaakkola - University of Oulu - Global networks of collaboration between academia and global village

20 May 2016 - Financing the gap - the role of lenders and granters in climate change and health

  1. Dr. Montserrat Meiro-Lorenzo - World Bank - Opportunities for climate financing for health outcomes
  2. Ms. Saliha Dobardzic - GEF - Experience in climate change and health
  3. Dr. Sarah Molton - Wellcome Trust 4 Dr. Surabi Menon - ClimateWorks Foundation
  4. Dr. Surabi Menon - ClimateWorks FoundationDr. Carlos Dora - WHO - Opportunities for mitigation and adaptation in LMICs
  5. Dr. Carlos Dora - WHO - Opportunities for mitigation and adaptation in LMICs
  6. Dr. Joy Shumake Guillemot WHO - Country needs and priorities where are the gaps
  7. Dr. Sanjay Srivastava - World Bank - Climate change and health Mozambique case study
  8. Dr. Eduardo Banzon - Asian Development Bank - ADB, climate change and health
  9. Dr. Tegan Blaine - USAID - USAID’s work on climate change and health
  10. Ms. Ute Jugert - GIZ - Lessons from the field climate and health in development action
  11. 11 Ms. Mariana Simões - UNDP, Climate Change & Health - Best practices, lessons learned & opportunities