By Abdulla Saeed Al-Mohannadi,
Forum manager and research fellow, WISH
Having an opportunity to discuss and deliberate on climate change and global warming is a privilege. At a time when carbon emissions are increasingly becoming a menace, we must rethink our approach to global warming and climate. Attending the COP26 in Glasgow was an incredible learning journey. I have gained new knowledge by attending various events, hearing different opinions and meeting new people with a common goal of fighting climate change but from different perspectives: economic, environmental, social and public health.
Once arriving at the Green Zone at the Glasgow Science Centre, I encountered a giant screen at the entrance with the question, How will you go #OnestepGreener?, which instigated a moment of critical thinking for me. I became preoccupied with thoughts of the three major steps geared towards ensuring a global net zero: water security, plantation, and recycling.
As I entered the Green Zone, there was a huge globe hanging from the ceiling. Looking at it made me think that we as human beings are obligated to protect this beautiful planet from destruction and preserve it for future generations. As the Holy Quran asserts, we are the guardians of earth and must care for this planet.
“وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفة” – 30 سورة البقرة Al-Baqarah
What is COP26?
COP26 was a the 26th UN conference on climate change. This year’s conference was held at Glasgow, Scotland in the United Kingdom from October 31st to 13th November 2021.
Objectives of COP26?
- Global net zero by 2050 and keep 1.5 degrees within reach by investing in renewables.
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
- Mobilize finance to secure global net zero
- Work together to deliver on the climate goals faster
At the exhibition of the Green Zone, there were sections to rethink about our food. Participants discussed innovative ideas and technologies, for example how to grow your vegetables at home using hydroponic and vertical plantation using soil-free and reduced water content. While I was having a delicious lunch meal – Scottish vegan haggis sandwich – a poster promoting us to thinki about going vegetarian or vegan to protect the environment caught my attention. It said that promoting no animal sacrifices means less pollution!
At the COP26 Health Pavilion, there was a panel session related to WHO Health in All Climate Polices hosted by World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) and Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) of Qatar with the support of United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. It encompassed “Greening the Health Sector” by translating the framework proposed by the WISH 2020 report into actions with the MOPH in Qatar to reduce environmental impact and carbon emissions of the health sectors. This goal will be accomplished through waste recycling, teaching the health workforce on climate change, and defining concrete objectives.
WISH also presented the ten action points recommended in the WISH 2020 report Health in the Climate Crisis for global health leaders.
Another interesting session involved mental health and climate change presented by Imperial College London. I enjoyed attending the panel discussion on the correlation between mental health and climate change. It is the first time that the UN Climate Change conference discussed mental health but will definitely not be the last.
Visiting my alma mater (Glasgow University) where I did my BSc studies in Sports Medicine, brought up some fond memories. Visiting the COP26 exhibition to learn more about sustainable solutions and making the world a better place for the current and future generations was certainly thought-provoking.
As we all embark on a new journey to tackle climate change and enhance sustainability, I urge all sober-minded individuals to start today. We can start with a small change: plant trees, recycle, or walk more. Just like a hummingbird, we can transform this world by taking small steps every day.
Climate change is posing detrimental and potentially irreversible effects on our health and the health of our planet. We must act now instead of only speaking about the exploitative effects of carbon emissions. Human-related activities are responsible for accelerating climate change. So let us unite and reconcile with nature to avoid further damages.