Executive Director’s remarks

  • Event
    COP28 World Climate Action Summit Leader-level Event: Putting Health at the Heart of the Climate Agenda, Dubai, UAE
  • Publication date 02 Dec 2023


We all know by now that the climate crisis has infected every corner of the world, and every sector of operation. The health of people -not just of the planet- is also not immune to this crisis.

Climate change presents a fundamental threat to human health:

  • 3.6 billion people live in areas highly susceptible to climate change.
  • Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 deaths per year due to under-nutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress.
  • Direct damage costs to health are estimated to reach between USD 2–4 billion per year by 2030.
  • Low-income countries and Small Island Developing States endure the harshest health impacts. The death rate from extreme weather events in the last decade was 15 times higher in vulnerable regions as compared to less vulnerable ones.

So, I’m glad today to participate in the first-ever Health Day to be held at COP, and I recognise and applaud the leadership of the UAE in ensuring health takes its place centre stage.

Today, on behalf of the Green Climate Fund, I’m delighted to announce our expanding support for climate and health through the launch of a USD 1.5 million Project Preparation Facility (PPF) grant, with matching funding of USD 1.55 million from UNDP and WHO.

The PPF grant will support preparation of a USD 122 million climate and health global programme with the aim of developing and operationalisng a multi-partner Climate and Health Co-Investment Facility, which will leverage public and private capital to promote climate resilient, sustainable and low-carbon health systems.

This is just the start. There’s more to do, and GCF is ready to do the heavy lifting.

Developing countries have been asking for urgent attention to be paid to the health effects of climate change for some time. As of 2023, 91 per cent of countries prioritised health in their Nationally Determined Contributions.

However, climate-health is underfunded, with only two per cent of adaptation funding and 0.5 per cent of multilateral climate funding allocated to projects that protect or improve human health.

There are several opportunities we have now to improve the way we finance climate and health initiatives. Recognising the urgent need to close widening gaps in existing finance for health and for climate change in low- and middle-income countries, GCF stands ready as a multilateral climate financer to be tapped to make direct investment in the health sector.

Our high-risk tolerance, partnership driven approach that allows us to work across the health sector, making us a natural partner to strengthen the inclusion of health considerations into national climate plans and investment strategies.

We are also able to support closing the gaps in planning and financing through our Readiness Programme, which at just over USD 550 million to date, is the world’s largest capacity building program to increase the climate finance readiness of developing countries. Through Readiness, we can help countries translate countries’ health priorities into climate investment.

To date, GCF has approved investments that capture impacts in the health sector in energy efficiency, particularly through cooling technologies; in building resilience to climate-proof critical public services and infrastructure including hospitals and clinics; and realising the health co-benefits of household air pollutions from improved cook stoves.

To date, GCF has approved investments totaling USD 457 million in 13 projects that have strong co-benefits in health and wellbeing. And we are providing support through Readiness grants to support financing gaps in climate and health sectors by providing investment planning support, including HNAPs and health vulnerability and adaptation assessment. We currently have about 13 Readiness proposals worth USD 5.8 million being worked on.

In October, our Board approved GCF’s first purely health sector project where GCF will provide a USD 25 million grant to enhance the climate resilience of Lao’s health system and strengthen capacity in 25 rural districts to manage health impacts from climate change.

I have no doubt that as GCF strengthens its country origination and systemic approach, we will see our health portfolio grow rapidly. That is, after all, what countries are asking for.

And that’s why GCF has contributed, alongside the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the World Health Organization to the drafting and activation of the Guiding Principles. We believe these provide a framework that will help make financing for health more equitable, inclusive, and accessible in the interests of countries and communities who need it most.

Excellencies, Colleagues: our health and the health of our planet go hand in hand, let’s start investing in that reality.

Thank you.