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'Integrate climate and health into all education, healthcare and government policies', is the call made by nine young healthcare professionals in their letter. They sent it on February 1 to Rob Jetten, the Minister of Climate and Energy. Last week the initiators received support from over 75 organizations including Leren voor Morgen. The purpose of the letter is to enter into discussion with the Ministries of VWS, OCW, EZK, LNV, IenW and BZ.

The Code Red letter states that the most important task for the government is the prevention of disease and, in addition, to treat those who get sick in a sustainable way. Code Red was written because of major concerns rising among health care providers due to the lack of education about the connection between health, climate and planetary boundaries (planetary health). This lack exists not only in health and medical schools but throughout education. The letter maps out that this is especially worrisome in light of the climate crisis. Climate change causes poorer health, which in turn increases the demand on healthcare, which further deteriorates the climate. The letter explains that healthcare is responsible for large environmental burdens and a significant carbon footprint.

To solve this problem, the letter ends with urgent concrete action items for the ministries:

  1. The establishment of an independent transdisciplinary Planetary Health Expert Panel headed by an independent sustainability expert.
    This one aims to implement a rapid transitite to structurally more Planetary Health throughout education.
  2. Establish an Interdepartmental Task Force (group from different ministries) to deal with the health of the current and future population. They have two priority areas in this:
    An equitable policy with the goal of preventing disease-and therefore overall health-as a priority.
    A rapid increase in the sustainability of the healthcare sector. This requires the concrete designation of where the various, non-binding responsibilities for improvement lie.
  3. Among other things, the letter notes that there is more than an emphasis on reducing healthcare emissions, but that it looks beyond that to sustainable improvement. Among other things, there is an emphasis on the importance of education for working healthcare professionals. The letter also emphasizes that education about the relationship between public health and the state of our planet is needed to change the state of affairs. Questions addressed here include what the impact of healthcare is on the environment, how it can be reduced and how to deal with the health problems caused by the changing climate. However, this is not or hardly dealt with in the training courses.

 

The letter does not only call for this sustainable education for healthcare personnel. In fact, planetary health and sustainability must become a structural part of all education, according to the Code Red letter. Education should include these topics from the youngest ages. "Ecological integrity, social justice, reduced energy and material consumption, and well-being are the new values that make our decisions have a future." according to the Code Red letter. The letter states that this needs to be addressed because the urgency of the matter is not seen.

Giuseppe van der Helm, chairman of Leren voor Morgen, states the following about sustainability in education: "Schools often have the fear that they have to do something on top of it, after all, they are already so busy. But sustainability is not something to add, this is education. Sustainability is found in all subjects and creates a connection between them. Communicating this is your goal as an educational institution. You have to educate pupils and students for the future, for the world of tomorrow, not for today's world or, as is often the case now: yesterday's world."

Do you want to get involved in this? Contribute to this mission via this petition!

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