There is a growing consensus that post COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts should address as priorities the public health emergency from air pollution and the global climate crisis. Collaborative efforts from the health and environmental sectors are critical to develop solutions with multiple benefits on public health and the environment, while largely contributing to build more equitable societies, boosting employment and fostering economic prosperity.
A coordinated approach by the health and environment sectors, articulated with other government branches at all levels, is necessary to better tackle the multiple health implications of climate change and air pollution. Such an approach will also enhance results for public health, well-being, and equality, and remove burdens for vulnerable groups.
These benefits would be numerous in Colombia, a country faced with several vulnerabilities to climate change and air pollution. Nearly 60% of the Colombian population live in municipalities classified as very high risk to climate change. The health impacts from environmental risk factors impose a heavy cost to the national economy: between 8,000 and 17,500 annual premature deaths, leading to economic loses valuated in 12.2 billion Colombian pesos -or 1.5% of the GDP.
Under the Paris Agreement, Colombia has committed to reduce its emissions by 20% by 2030 with no condition, and by an additional 30% if international assistance is provided.