iDEA2021: Planet Health and Hope was an exciting, motivating conference, held online on 16 to 17 October 2021.
This was DEAs annual conference, and this year it marked the 20th anniversary of DEA as an organisation. DEA started with six doctors talking about the links between climate and health, and now 20 years later we are hosting a conference with national and international speakers that served to galvanise the need for climate action in our country. From little things big things grow!
iDEA2021 assessed the current state of climate and health on our planet and then looked at ways that we can treat it. As a conference for health professionals the aim was to show climate as a health issue, inviting the clinician to look at ways to remedy it.
We learnt about global warming, tipping points and the need for urgent reduction of fossil fuel use, the equally concerning problem of biodiversity loss, the impacts of pollution and the effects of all these on human health.
We were fortunate to hear wisdom from our First Nations plenary, improving our understanding of the need for solutions that embody indigenous knowledge. We learnt of the plight of the Murray Darling Basin and were inspired by marine drawdown solutions.
These problems are emotionally hard and an important part of the conference was our session with Psychology for a Safe Climate who supported us with our climate distress. We were able to share our emotions in a safe environment and this is vital, because we do need to face the climate crisis in order to be personally active in this space.
We looked at the politics surrounding the climate debate. Firstly on a global level with a presentation from the Global Climate and Health Alliance and, secondly, in our Politicians Plenary where we were joined by members of our federal parliament, namely Chris Bowen MP, Zali Steggall MP, Helen Haines MP and Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. We know that it is vital that there is a political response to the climate crisis and it was gratifying that these elected representatives understood the need for such a response.
A further solutions focus was greening health care. We learnt about the UK NHS Sustainability Unit, as well as work DEA members are doing in Australia and of our partnership with the AMA. There is much work to be done to green our health care system, but it is reassuring to know that there is so much good work happening within our hospitals and in general practice.
We then looked at solutions from other sectors including diet and agriculture, economics, engineering and the law. These last sessions were inspiring and show that people right across our country and from different backgrounds are working on climate change and that there are a myriad of solutions available for us.
The problems facing our planet are grave and it is hard not to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the planetary health crisis. But what the conference showed, is that human ingenuity can solve many problems and if we work together humans are powerful.
And this gives us hope, not the cross your fingers in the corner kind of hope- but the hope that comes with action, the hope that comes from knowing that the combination of our efforts and the refusal to give up is the treatment pathway we need to ensure the health of humanity and the beautiful planet on which we all live.
Check out a summary of tweets here