Social movement have played a vital role in the history of public health. They have campaigned for the abolishment of slavery, the introduction of votes for women, improved sanitation and water in cities, protection of natural environments, and for reproductive rights to name a few examples. Thus these movements have played a very significant role in improving health conditions over many years, in most countries and globally.
There are numerous social movements around the globe that campaign on the issues of climate and health. Some movements are more focused on protecting the environment for its intrinsic value and other more concerned with actions directly related to health. Protecting the environment and biodiversity as part of combatting climate change is crucial to health because of the increasing evidence that contact with nature and spending time in natural places is good for mental and physical health. Other social movements are centrally concerned with the impact of climate change on health. This sub-theme will consider both types of movements and links between them. Examining the links between health and climate change social movements is vital because people may be more likely to support action for climate change if they understand the health issues global warming will give rise to.
This session will also provide opportunities to learn from the experience of earlier social movements that have led to healthy change. The advocacy for treatment rights for people living with HIV/AIDS is a powerful example of such a movement. The tactics and strategies they used holds lessons for social movements campaigning on climate change and health.
Social movements use many different strategies including political lobbying, public protests, social media activism, boycotts, shareholder activism, petitions, and direct action. Examples of each of these will be highlighted in this session. Most of the tactics are aimed at advocacy for change. The importance of advocacy to public health has been explained as:
Advocacy is necessary to steer public attention away from disease as a personal problem to health as a social issue, and the mass media are an invaluable tool in this process. Advocacy is a strategy for blending science and politics with a social justice value orientation to make the system work better, particularly for those with least resources’ (Wallack et al., 1993, p. 5).
The session will:
Professor of Social Medicine & Primary Health Care
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
PHM ecosystem and health circle / Professor
People´s Health Movement/ Universidad San Francisco de Quito
acoactivist, UN Champion of the Earth, Chairwoman at MoveGreen NGO, Kyrgyzstan. Expert in advocacy and information campaigns on air quality and climate change. Founder of Air Quality Central