Global Health Network

Maastricht Annual Symposium on Global and European Health 2014

1 October 2014

4th Annual Maastricht Symposium on Global and European Health will take place on Thursday, October 9th 2014. The topic of this year is 'Climate Change and Health:Vulnerability and Responsibility in a Global and European Perspective'.

Climate change poses serious challenges for humans around the world. Global warming is perceived as one of the biggest global health risks of the twentieth century which could have a range of effects on human health. Global warming is thought to have an impact on vector-borne disease, water-related disease, heat- and cold- related deaths, allergies, air pollution and malnutrition. The projected increases in extreme climate events such as floods, droughts, and possible intense tropical cyclones could also have wide ranging direct and indirect effects on health.

Although the effect of climate change will be experienced worldwide, its impact will not be evenly distributed among people. In low income countries, climate change is believed to further exacerbate existing vulnerability to disease and food security risks, as their populations are, for instance, more reliant on agriculture, more vulnerable to droughts and have a lower adaptive capacity. As climate change can be seen as an amplifier of existing and emerging health risk, it might increase health inequalities and is likely to widen the health gap between rich and poor.

International organizations such as the WHO and the European Union have developed several agendas on climate change mitigation. Attempts to effectively reduce CO2 are limited and targets of these agendas are rarely met. While high income countries cling to high living standards and invest in ‘technological solutions’; emerging economies struggle with the tension between prioritizing industrialization and economic growth on the one hand, and the adverse effects of the growth agenda for health and environment; low income countries merely prioritize economic growth in order to be able to feed their populations. Besides these challenges to further the climate change mitigation agenda, there is potential for improvement as well. Some argue that greater awareness of the health co-benefits of policies to reduce greenhouse gas emission could make climate change mitigation more attractive to policymakers in both high and low income countries. Others emphasize how climate change mitigation strategies can help to reduce the vulnerability of poor populations. This debate on the distribution of vulnerability and responsibility related to climate change is the central focus of the Symposium, which offers an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and solutions with experts, industry and policy makers.

The Catherina Pijls key note lecture will be provided by Sir Andrew Haines, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK.

Further contributions to this symposium include: Prof Pim Martens, International Centre for Integrated assessment and Sustainable development (ICIS), Maastricht University; Kevin McCarthy, Directorate Generale for Development and Cooperation- EuropeAid, European Commission and representatives of WHO Europe and aviation industry (tba).


Supported by the Master Global Health programme, the Master European Public Health programme, the Bachelor European Public Health programme, Department Health, Ethics, Society, Department of International Health and Caphri, FHML, Maastricht University and Catharina PijlsStichting