Sustainability in Healthcare and Education – Global Challenges and Solutions

Climate change impacts on health in multiple ways. This meeting will focus on three different but related areas that highlight challenges, stress the importance of the youth voice and, importantly, suggest positive ways forward.

Day 1 takes as its theme ‘Oral Health’. It examines the much-welcomed approaches of the World Health Organisation that are embodied in the recently adopted 2021 WHO Oral Health Resolution, and in the draft Global Strategy for Oral Health. The speakers will provide examples of national plans and ongoing activities in low and middle-income countries, highlight multisectoral efforts to address Noma, and present innovative ‘new ways of thinking and working’ around sustainability in delivery of oral and dental care, with a focus on essential medicines, minimal intervention and disease prevention.

Day 2 focuses on the integration of sustainability and planetary health in educational programmes for health workforce training. Throughout the 2020 / 2021 academic year, dental students from 21 dental schools around the world, and members of oral health organisations have been working in partnership on a project that considers oral health in the context of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Participating students and groups will present their own unique perspectives from their national perspective providing a ‘snapshot of dentistry and oral health care’ around the world. Their conclusions will help to inform how we can collectively pursue the aims and ambitions of the WHO Oral Health Resolution. The issues will be discussed from the perspective of both staff and students across a variety of professional groups, culminating in the launch of a Student / Youth Manifesto for Sustainable Oral Health.

Day 3 is focused on empowering children from schools across the globe to become the main actors of change in addressing the challenge of climate change.  Mountains are the “water towers of the world”, but climate change is impacting mountains and affecting the availability of water almost globally. Children alongside the Mountain Partnership and member organizations will present and discuss their actions to improve, support and empower children’s education regarding their role in water and mountain conservation in the face of  rapidly changing mountain environments and ecosystems. Sessions will also highlight opportunities to rethink mountain tourism and its impact on natural resources and livelihoods, to manage it better, and to harness it towards a more resilient, green and inclusive future. It will draw from local government experiences in coordinating action on climate change that engages and empowers schools, communities, key actors and groups.  The final session will feature the launch a call to action: ‘Mountains, the water towers of our world: Children’s call to action to protect mountain areas against the impacts of climate change’ promoted by the Zero Water Day Partnership with support from the Mountain Partnership.

How is it relevant to climate change and the UK Presidency themes?

The ZWDP addresses two of the UK Presidency themes:

• Adaptation and resilience - to help communities adapt to, and prepare for, the worst impacts of climate change.

• Nature - to safeguard and restore natural habitats and ecosystems to preserve the planet's biodiversity.

Adaptation and resilience
The ZWDP focuses on translating and applying SDG 4.7: ‘by 2030 to ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development’.

The 17 SDGs are the basis for learning and for the participants’ development of their ZWDP action plans. This allows for every school to develop their own action plan to address local problems, but for participating schools around the world to understand and relate to each other, as well as encouraging them to think about different perspectives as they develop their own action plan.

All the learners will follow the same learning plan and have opportunity to share materials with other schools after each learning step. In this way, the school pupils will learn with and from each other as they develop and refine their own action plans. In turn, these local action plans will synergise with and reinforce action at a global level.

In parallel, the University students will develop and roll-out an equivalent action plan that follows the same learning model as the schools but customised for dental students. Their activities will focus Page 2 of 3 on action around water and addressing the social determinants of health with delivery framed by the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) agenda.

Each school will build a planetary health weather station (PHWS) to reinforce the interconnected and interdependent nature of planetary health and human health. The PHWS provides a practical component to the ZWDP learning plan. A key message in ZWDP 2021 is around ‘mountains as water towers of the world’.

Additional school-based activities will support WHO UNESCO Health Promoting Schools Initiative and promote multi-, inter- and intra-generational dialogue through whole school, whole community action.

Joint working between the schools and universities will support youth learning networks focusing on global challenges of climate change in multiple geographic locales.