COP28 Health Statement – People’s Health Hearing Collective
Acknowledging the violence in the present moment
The People’s Health Hearing Collective bears witness to the profound violence, oppression, and settler colonialism plaguing the regions of Congo, Sudan, and Palestine. The tapestry of human
suffering woven across these landscapes demands our collective attention and resolute commitment to justice.
The Democratic Republic of Congo bears the scars of political instability, armed conflicts, and the exploitative extraction of resources for white-supremacist greed. We condemn the recurring waves of brutality that have inflicted immeasurable harm on communities, urging an immediate end to the cycle of suffering endured by the people of Congo, which has been fuelled in large part by the drive for ‘green’ minerals and ‘green’ growth in the global North.
Sudan, with its history marked by war crimes, conflict and human rights violations, is increasingly pressured by climate related famine and drought . The collective trauma etched into the lives of Sudanese communities necessitates our unwavering commitment to advocating for justice, peace, and an end to the recurring cycle of violence.
In Palestine, Palestinians are denied their basic human rights and dignity, and a century long struggle against settler colonialism and occupation persists. The Palestinian people face systemic oppression, apartheid, and displacement. Their land, olive groves and ecosystems are violated as a key weapon of colonialism. This ecological violence is frequently greenwashed, whilst the health of Palestinians is systematically targeted as a site of attack and domination. We call for an end to the entrenched 75 year long occupation and current acute genocide, as a step towards building a future conducive to justice, healing and peace in a liberated Palestine.
Rooted in the interconnection of the health, racial, environmental and climate justice movements, the People’s Health Hearing Collective stands in solidarity with victims of violence, oppression, and settler colonialism in Congo, Sudan, and Palestine. Our pursuit of a world rooted in equity demands action, kinship, and an unwavering resolve to dismantle the structures perpetuating harm in these afflicted regions. There can be no health or environmental justice under occupation. There can be no health or environmental justice without an end to white supremacy, which deems the lives of Palestinians, Congolese and Sudanese people as disposable in the pursuit of land, resources and power.
Amidst the global call for urgent climate action, COP28 stands as a pivotal juncture, presenting an opportunity to establish a robust loss and damage fund—a critical stride toward initiating reparative justice. Whilst we know that true reparations require much wider transformation, this prospect carries the potential to set a precedent, guiding future COPs toward a trajectory that services health justice. At the same time, this fund is increasingly co-opted, weakened, and weaponised in the service of corporations, development institutions and wealthy states.
In parallel, COP is a forum where the echoes of marginalised voices are often drowned out by the cacophony of corporate interests. On this thematic health day, the People’s Health Hearing’s statement is firmly grounded in the recognition of the intrinsic interdependencies linking environmental, socio-economic, and health inequities. These interconnected threads trace back to the foundations of neo-capitalistic, colonial hegemony. This statement calls for building a world that centres justice, equity, and the well-being of our interconnected global community.
We call for:
- The swift implementation of a binding and mandatory loss and damage fund, paid into by individuals, governments, corporations and organisations responsible for extractivism fuelling climate change
Corporate accountability for health-related atrocities necessitates a robust inclusion of health-focused L&D initiatives. We assert that the fund must address the health impacts stemming from extractive practices, environmental degradation, and human rights violations perpetrated by corporations, as well as the health impacts of climate change.
While discussions are underway concerning potential L&D allocations for issues such as food insecurity and infrastructure, the glaring omission of health-related losses and damage is disconcerting. Communities must be compensated for the downstream health impacts of climate change caused by the extraction of fossil fuels, and the upstream health impacts of extraction itself.
The UNFCCC will likely administer such a fund, therefore it must tie the right to UNFCCC membership with an obligation to fulfil the demands of the fund. They must exercise member suspension until these demands are met. This loss and damage fund is but one step towards holistic reparations for affected communities by past, current and future unforeseeable impacts of these criminal corporate agendas and practices.
- An end to all collaboration with the fossil fuel industry
Resulting from economic and political greed, the amplified presence of the fossil fuel industry lobbyists and partnerships is destructive to the integrity of COP proceedings. COP28, and future COPs, must sever ties with those responsible for perpetuating environmental degradation, human rights abuses, and the exacerbation of health disparities.
We urge the health community to resist and call out health-washing, whereby health actors continue to include and liaise with harmful industries and place trust in government assurances without recognition of ways this can be manipulated. The health community must enact its potential to become a key player in the fight against the fossil fuel industry – this includes supporting the calls for the exclusion of fossil fuel companies from COP negotiations and committing to exclude fossil fuel companies from health events. The health perspective holds power, which attracts governments and corporations. Its inclusion in decision texts doesn’t guarantee positive outcomes but may instead hinder genuine climate action through the reallocating of finances from crucial areas like resilient agriculture and sanitation to health. With concern for the manipulation of the close collaboration between the health community and the COP28 presidency, we call for the health community to use its influence judiciously, ensuring genuine progress toward climate justice.
- And end to extractivism as a whole
Simply removing fossil fuels from an energy system rooted in extraction does not guarantee health equity. Whilst frontline global South communities have resisted fossil fuel extraction from global North corporations for decades, similar patterns are being replicated for green energy. Systemic harms imposed on people and the planet are not unique to the fossil fuel industry, but a pattern across extractive industries fuelling the climate and ecological crises, such as the fast fashion and agribusiness industries.
We firmly assert the need to end the financial, military, political, trade and social systems which perpetuate extractivism and violence upon minoritised and racialised communities.