Finding smart solutions for climate change health impacts
This blog was written by Anna Fuhrmann, registered nurse and climate officer at Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe.
Climate change is the biggest public health challenge of the 21st century, it already impacts our patients, our work, and our communities. Extreme weather events, changing disease patterns, and the increasing socioeconomic impacts of climate change will put nurses and other health professionals at the forefront of fighting the health impacts of our changing climate.
It is important for us nurses to learn about climate change and its health implications – and how we can prepare for changes and protect our patients and communities. We have to empower each other to acquire the necessary knowledge and speak up, by advocating and teaching others. This includes our colleagues, as well as nursing students. Nursing education has to integrate the new challenges and opportunities posed by climate change into its curricula to adequately prepare the next generation of nurses. With the Nursing School Commitment, Schools of Nursing pledge to include sustainability and planetary health in their education of nurses.
The Nursing Now Challenge (NNC) and the Nurses Climate Challenge Europe help nurses to become leaders and to initiate the changes needed in health systems and in society. Healthcare needs to become resilient to climate change and reduce its own negative impact. As nurses, we are one of the most trusted professions worldwide, we can use this trust to advocate for the right measures and teach others about the urgency of our situation.
Nursing practice needs to change as well, by mitigating emissions, adapting our care, and making healthcare resilient. The NNC Global Solutions Initiative and the Nurses Climate Challenge Europe are collecting resources and the best solutions to empower nurses and fight climate change. It is crucial to share practical knowledge and good examples with our colleagues around the world to encourage replication and thereby reduce the negative impacts of climate change on our patients.
We invite you to join the Nurses Climate Challenge Europe, use our free resources to learn, educate others, become an advocate for climate-smart healthcare, and adapt your nursing practice to the challenge that climate change poses. Together we can protect our patients and communities from the health impacts of climate change.
Watch our recent webinars about the role of nurses in tackling climate change here.