COP27 Side Event Explores Impacts of Climate Change on Mental Health

Experts from UNU and other UN organisations discussed the linkage between climate change and mental health at COP27.

On 12 November 2022, experts from UNU and other UN organisations discussed the interconnections between climate change and mental health. The official side event at the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (COP27) focused on enhancing understanding of the multifaceted impacts of climate change and related hazards on mental health and psychosocial well-being.

The event featured experts from the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), the UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS), the UNU International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH), the UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT), and UNU-IAS.

Speakers presented reflections from diverse geographic regions, exploring capacities to integrate support services in climate response strategies. UNU-IAS expert Suneetha Subramanian (Research Fellow) presented on the role of human–nature interactions. She emphasised that nature was a key factor in health interventions, for example by facilitating people’s engagement in healthy activities. Enhancing social-ecological resilience will help to address vulnerabilities, including those related to mental health.

Other speakers highlighted the effectiveness of community-based approaches to mental health, and considered how to address cultural challenges such as stigma and reliance on traditional healing. Key points included the need for gender-sensitive solutions to mitigate mental health problems and more research on impacts for vulnerable groups, including children. A wide-ranging discussion explored issues including gender-responsive approaches, strengthening community systems as a support service, and how to take into account the lived realities of communities.

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