The world continues to grapple with the climate crisis and its associated health challenges as the root causes of climate change have not been adequately addressed. Health equity, adopting a planetary health perspective, and understanding the need to go beyond humanitarian assistance to enact systemic changes are key to addressing the impact of climate change on human health. Considering the complexity of today’s world, applying a systems lens to avoid silos and tackle issues is crucial. To effectively coordinate climate action, placing people at the centre is essential. Designing and implementing low cost, local, and high impact solutions requires listening to the actual needs of communities, rather than making assumptions.
Addressing challenges at the nexus of climate and health through cost-effective interventions are a prudent investment that will benefit the well-being of current and future generations. A meta-analysis of data on the effect of water treatment on child mortality has shown that one in four deaths of children could be averted through water treatment, especially in low and middle-income countries. Water treatment is a cost-effective measure despite deep neglect by the international community. Government-led initiatives, such as the Indian government’s pledge to bring piped water to every rural household, present a critical opportunity to facilitate water treatment and safe water delivery with the potential to transform child health. Establishing systems in advance to enable safe water access can mitigate the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera, is cheaper than crisis management, and can help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.
Despite some degraded lands, Asia still has many standing forests left, alongside significant agriculture and forestry industries. These offer promising opportunities to contribute to emissions reduction and carbon sequestration through nature-based solutions. Time is of essence and research can help identify key priorities for action. However, the research sector cannot do this alone, and partnerships with governments, businesses and civil society are needed to implement and translate research into impactful actions. Further training is required for future research leaders to step up and engage with the public and private sectors to collectively understand problems and innovate solutions.