Climate health
Environmental Monitoring and Governance

29 May 2024, Antigua and Barbuda - Health is a powerful and compelling argument for climate action. We need to build coherence and foster collaboration across partners and donors alike to accelerate the allocation of finance for climate and health solutions initiatives in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The point was raised by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga, Hon. Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni, who added that such financing must be predictable, accessible, and effective. He was speaking during a dialogue on the second day of the 4th International Conference of Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC) and the University of Melbourne Climate Futures.

The gathering, held on Tuesday 28 May at the American University of Antigua, brought together leaders, youth, partners, and representatives from SIDS to underscore the urgent need for cross-sectoral responses to climate-related health and equity issues.

Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku emphasised the urgent need for cohesive action, noting that while many countries include health priorities in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), actual funding for health-related projects remain woefully inadequate. 

"We must elevate health to the forefront of climate discussions and ensure that it receives the necessary financial support to drive transformative change,” said Hon. Hu’akavameiliku. 

The Prime Minister of Tonga also echoed the significance of collaboration, particularly in localising research initiatives through dedicated centres such as the Pacific Climate Change Centre.  Such emphasis on localised research not only ensures that solutions are tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of communities but also fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among local stakeholders. 

Climate Health SIDS4

“Through collaborative endeavours, countries like Tonga can harness knowledge, scientific expertise, and international support to tackle climate challenges head-on, paving the way for sustainable development and enduring resilience”.

The Ambassador for Climate Change of the Government of Australia, Ms Kirstin Tilly, reiterated the role Australia as a partner to the small islands play in addressing the health and wellbeing impacts of climate change. 

“We identify opportunities for knowledge sharing and the development of international standards as well as highlight the ways Australia can support its neighbours to protect and promote health in their climate change responses,” she said.

Through its National Health and Climate Strategy, the government of Australia is dedicated to tackling the health impacts of climate change domestically, while also extending support to small island nations including the Pacific through collaborative projects and capacity-building initiatives

This partnership aims to enhance regional resilience by sharing expertise, resources, and innovative solutions tailored to the unique challenges faced by small island communities. 
Climate change profoundly affects the health, education, and physical well-being of small island nations. Innovative transformations are essential to address these challenges. The integration of climate change education into curricula, enhanced by technology, empowers communities with effective mitigation and adaptation strategies. 

Prioritising mental and physical health support through integrated services and community resilience initiatives is crucial for navigating climate-related stress and trauma.  The Pacific Climate Change Centre serves a central research hub of the Pacific. In its close collaboration with the University of Melbourne a training program focused on climate, health, and equity was coordinated. 

Fifteen fellows, including policymakers and researchers from the Pacific and Southeast Asia, participated with the aim to enhance capabilities through mentoring and the development of policy and practice outputs, such as health-specific funding proposals and research priorities. The initiative strives to develop leadership potential and stimulate lasting change by empowering a global network of talented individuals through high-quality education experiences.

Professor Janine Felson of the University of Melbourne emphasised the pivotal role of collaboration and partnerships in addressing the far-reaching consequences of climate change. 

“By working together, we can develop innovative solutions, empower communities, and advocate for policies that prioritise health, equity, and resilience in the face of climate-related challenges,” she said.

Her assertion underscores the importance of pooling together resources and uniting efforts, to foster innovation, support communities, and champion policies geared towards safeguarding health, promoting equity, and fortifying resilience in the wake of climate-related adversities.

The dialogue also highlighted the importance of integrating mental health initiatives in addressing climate change impacts. These initiatives are crucial for developing effective strategies to address the emotional and psychological toll of climate change, further enhancing community resilience and overall well-being.

By placing a strong emphasis on health, education, and equity within climate action strategies, small island nations can adeptly address the diverse impacts of climate change. 
The side event on the margins of the SIDS4 conference represented a collective effort to not only initiate crucial discussions on but also to establish a framework for tackling various challenges and fostering resilience in small island states.

The SIDS4 conference is held from 27 to 30 May 2024. It is preceded by the SIDS Children and Youth Action Summit from 24 – 26 May, the SIDS Gender Equality Forum on 26 May, the SIDS Global Business Network Forum from 25 – 26 May and the SIDS4 Private Sector Roundtable on 28 May, 2024.

For more information please visit

Stay tuned to and FB: and @SPREPChannel on X (formerly Twitter for more news on the Pacific at SIDS4.

SIDS4, Climate Change, Health