WHO-WIPO-WTO Symposium 2023: The Nexus of Climate Change, Health, Trade, and Innovation

On November 14, 2023, the 10th Joint Technical Symposium, “Facing the Future: Human Health and Climate Change,” was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), WIPO, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). This crucial event delved into the intricate connections between public health, trade, and intellectual property (IP), exploring avenues to harness existing tools and innovate new technologies. The symposium aimed to confront the pressing issue of climate change’s impact on human health, especially among vulnerable populations globally.

Keynote Insights from Leadership

Directors-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (WTO), and Daren Tang (WIPO) inaugurated the symposium, emphasizing urgent cross-sectoral efforts. Their collective call drew parallels with the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic response, advocating for a cohesive strategy to combat escalating climate threats.

Director-General Ghebreyesus stressed the need for Member States to accelerate emission reduction commitments and transition to clean energy. He underscored the importance of ensuring that intellectual property and trade rules don’t impede access to greener technologies.

Director-General Okonjo-Iweala highlighted the pivotal role of trade in disseminating green technology and driving down decarbonization costs. She emphasized the necessity for incentivizing breakthrough technologies and aligning innovation with accessibility.

Director General Tang reiterated WIPO’s commitment to making IP a driving force for a better future. He introduced WIPO GREEN, an online platform fostering global collaboration between providers and seekers of green tech. Tang pledged continued efforts in building innovation and tech transfer capabilities in Member States.

Insights from Keynote Address

Ambrosio Yobánolo del Real, Vice-Chair of the UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee, delivered the keynote address. He discussed the current and future adverse impacts of climate change on human health, linking evidence-based actions at the international level to simultaneous mitigation of the climate crisis and enhancement of individual health and well-being.

Panel Discussions For Actionable Insights

The symposium comprised three panel discussions:

  1. Healthcare Needs in the Face of Climate Crisis: Explored practical experiences from different regions, addressing healthcare needs arising from climate change.
  2. IP as an Enabler of Innovative Technologies: Examined how intellectual property can facilitate innovative technologies combating climate change, ensuring equitable global access.
  3. Trade Policies for Mitigating Climate Change-related Health Risks: Discussed the deployment of trade policies to mitigate health risks linked to climate change, particularly in ensuring food safety and security.

Closing Remarks and Call to Action

Clive Ondari, Director of Health Products and Standards at WHO, concluded the symposium by emphasizing the need for continued collaboration with Member States, private sectors, civil society, and indigenous communities to effectively address health challenges stemming from climate change.

For detailed insights, including video recordings and speaker information, visit the event page. The symposium provided a pivotal platform to align global strategies in the pursuit of a sustainable and healthier future for all.

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