ICN joins other health professionals in demanding an end to the world’s dependency on fossil fuels ahead of the COP 28 meeting

1 November 2023
WS 45

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has joined forces with health professional organisations around the world to demand an end to humanity’s dependency on highly polluting and damaging fossil fuels.

ICN is a cosignatory to a letter addressed to Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, President-elect of the annual United Nations Climate Conference, which starts on November 30 in the United Arab Emirates.

For the first time, the COP28 meeting will be dedicating a whole day to the topic of climate change and health. The letter, published on November 1 and sent on behalf of the international health and medical community, urges countries to accelerate their efforts to phase out fossil fuels as an important step towards the goal of Health for All.

Signatories to the letter represent more than 43 million healthcare professionals, including nurses, doctors, academics, medical NGOs and public health specialists.

The letter says ending the world’s dangerous dependency on fossil fuels will improve the health prospects of future generations, and will save lives.

It ends by calling on governments to deliver real climate progress and commit to “an accelerated, just and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels and invest in a renewable energy transition as the decisive path to Health for All.”

Speaking as the letter was published ICN President Dr Pamela Cipriano said:

“When disaster strikes, hospitals and health care centres are often at the forefront. They are also the epicentre of addressing the escalating and noxious effects of climate change that are robbing people of their health. We are seeing more people come into our health care centres, hospitals and clinics complaining of heat exhaustion, respiratory issues and allergies, second hand smoke exposure among other things.

‘We firmly believe that COP28 is an opportunity to adopt unified solutions and take action to implement mitigation and adaptation policies that also protect our health. This means phasing out “dirty energy” like coal, oil and gas that have negative impacts on health and the environment and prioritising clean energy sources. We must invest in a healthy and climate-safe future - the time to act on this is now.”

Cosignatories to the letter are:

Global Health Organization Leadership

  • Dr Githinji Gitahi, CEO, Amref Health Africa
  • Dr Pamela Cipriano, President, International Council of Nurses
  • Dr Salman Khan, Liaison Officer for Public Health Issues, International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations
  • Dr Naveen Thacker, President, International Pediatric Association
  • Dr Christos Christou, International President, Médecins Sans Frontières
  • Dr María del Carmen Calle Dávila, Executive Secretary, Organismo Andino du Salud (Andean Health Organization)
  • Prof. Luis Eugenio de Souza, President, World Federation for Public Health Associations
  • Dr Lujain Alqodmani, President, World Medical Association

Regional Leaders in Health (alphabetical by surname)

  • Dr Mary T. Bassett, Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University
  • Dr Fiona Godlee, Former Editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal
  • Prof. (Dr) Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Institute of Chest Surgery, Chest Onco Surgery and Lung Transplantation, Medanta Hospital, India
  • Dame Parveen Kumar, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Education, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Dr Lwando Maki, Secretary, Public Health Association of South Africa
  • Dr Jemilah Mahmood, Executive Director, Sunway Center for Planetary Health, Malaysia
  • Dr Kari C. Nadeau, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health
  • Prof. (Dr) K Srinath Reddy, Past President of Public Health Foundation of India

This letter supported and endorsed by health leaders and organizations from around the world:


  • Dr Agonafer Tekalenge, President, Ethiopian Public Health Association
  • Dr Adeline Kimambo, Executive Secretary, Tanzania Public Health Association
  • African journal of gastroenterology and hepatology, Egypt
  • The Board of the Public Health Association of South Africa
  • Annals of Health Research – The Journal of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, Nigeria
  • Youth Advocacy and Development Network, Uganda


  • Global Journal of Medicine and Public Health, India
  • Green Practice Japan, Japan
  • Health and Global Policy Institute, Japan
  • Khyber Medical University Journal, Pakistan


  • Dr Vital Ribeiro, Chair, Associação Civil Projeto Hospitais Saudáveis, Brazil
  • Dr Rosana Teresa Onocko Campos, President, Associação Brasileira de Saúde Coletiva, Brazil
  • ACT Health Promotion, Brazil
  • Fundación Colombiana del Corazón, Colombia
  • Asociación Latinoamericana De Pediatría, Uruguay


  • Diederik Aarendonk, Forum Coordinator Global Health Organization Leadership, European Forum for Primary Care
  • Dr Ansgar Gerhardus, Board Chair, German Public Health Association
  • Prof. Kevin Fenton, President, UK Faculty of Public Health
  • Dr Latifa Patel, Representative Body Chair, British Medical Association
  • Kamran Abassi, Editor-in-Chief, British Medical Journal
  • Dr Richard Smith, Chair, UK Health Alliance on Climate Change
  • Sheila Sobrany, President, Royal College of Nursing
  • Diana Zeballos, Executive Secretary, Sustainable Health Equity Movement
  • EuroHealthNet, Belgium
  • Association of Basic Medical Sciences of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations – Denmark, Denmark
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Epidemiolgie e. V, Germany
  • Galician Health Service, Spain
  • Tsubaki Diseño Slu, Spain
  • Swedish Doctors for the Environment, Sweden
  • Doctors for the Environment Switzerland, Switzerland
  • Health for Future Switzerland, Switzerland Public Health Schweiz, Switzerland
  • International Society of Doctors for the Environment, Switzerland
  • Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • Santé En Transition, Réunion Royal College of Nursing, United Kingdom
  • Palliative Care Sustainability Network, United Kingdom
  • Greener Practice, United Kingdom World Health Innovation Summit, United Kingdom


  • Dr Kate Wylie, Executive Director, Doctors for the Environment Australia
  • Dr Frances Peart, President & Board Chair, Climate and Health Alliance Australia
  • Veterinarians for Climate Action, Australia


  • Katie Huffling, DNP, Executive Director, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
  • Canadian Medical Association, Canada
  • Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity, Canada
  • Climate Psychiatry Alliance, United States
  • Climate Health Now, United States Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action, United States
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility/Sacramento, United States
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania, United States
  • Carolina Advocates for Climate, Health, and Equity, United States
  • Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, United States
  • Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, United States
  • Boston College Global Observatory on Planetary Health, United States