World Environment Day, 2014

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) supports World Environment Day (WED) on 5 June 2014.

It is a day on which the United Nations calls for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment - over time, it has evolved into a major global platform for public advocacy across many countries.

2014 has been designated by the UN as the ‘International Year of Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS) which WED will adopt as a theme in the broader context of climate change.

The objectives are to ‘help build momentum towards the Third International Conference on SIDS in September and encourage a greater understanding of the importance of SIDS and of the urgency to help protect the islands in the face of growing risks and vulnerabilities, particularly as a result of climate change.’

FIGO President Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran said:

‘FIGO - the only global organisation representing national societies of obstetricians and gynecologists - has a vision that women of the world achieve the highest possible standards of physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health and wellbeing throughout their lives. It is committed to working for the benefit of all women, particularly those in low- and middle-resource countries.

‘Climate change is an extremely critical issue for healthcare professionals, as it is a major threat to global public health: food and water shortages, heatwaves, increased air pollution, and transmission of vector bourne diseases - such as malaria - are just a few of the dangerous side effects that affect the population. It also exacerbates health and social inequalities within and between countries. Women and children are noticeably more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, particularly in low-resource countries. Healthcare professionals therefore have a responsibility to do everything they can to help alleviate its effects.

‘This may include urging governments, the private sector and colleagues to become more reliant on alternative sources of energy. Even as individuals we can set an example by walking/cycling to work, using public transport, conserving energy at home and in the workplace etc. Networking is also a crucial tool. I encourage FIGO Member Societies, and all FIGO collaborating partners, to take affirmative action wherever they can - small-scale actions can ultimately yield long-term results if enough efforts are concentrated.’

He ended: ‘WED is an excellent opportunity for the world to highlight the major public health issues that arise from climate change, and to use these opportunities to further long-term advocacy efforts.’