Nurses’ Role in Addressing Global Climate Change, Climate Justice, and Health
ANA Position Statement
Approved: September 8, 2023
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes climate change as “the single biggest health threat facing humanity” (WHO, 2021). An editorial published in 200 leading medical journals, including The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the British Medical Journal, agreed with the opinion of the WHO, stating the world cannot “wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to pass before addressing climate change” (Sommer, 2021; Gaines, 2022). The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports confirm the urgency of now. If we do not rapidly and effectively decrease greenhouse gas emissions, feedback loops will contribute to further climate instability, making it more difficult to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This will have devastating consequences for all life on the planet. As advocates for the health and safety of individuals and communities, nurses have vital roles to play in addressing this global issue and its consequences on human health and all life on Earth. The American Nurses Association (ANA) acknowledges climate change is but one of many urgent health crises at this time, but nurses must be informed about the deep interconnection of human health and the health of the environment. Many of the actions called for in this statement will help address the human-caused disruptions to the Earth’s natural systems. This position statement is a call to action and guidance for nurses in all settings and specialties.
Statement of ANA Position
The ANA recognizes that climate change is a critical public health issue that requires urgent action to mitigate its impact on human health and well-being. Nurses are called upon to integrate the science of climate and health into nursing education, research, and practice and to work with other health care professionals, community organizations, and policymakers to address the multiple health consequences of environmental degradation, extreme weather events, and other climate-related health impacts with evidence-based mitigation and adaptation actions, programs, and policies.
Note: This position statement reflects ANA’s adoption of the Precautionary Principle and strives to encourage our profession to be proactive and responsive to the environmental changes and climate related events we see happening around the globe. Additionally, it is important to be a part of generating solutions to the effects of those changes on the health outcomes of our patients.
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