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Public Health & Climate Change Summit 2008


Photo of Mayor Bloomberg
Mayor Bloomberg gives keynote address at Public Health and Climate Change Summit, June 26, 2008. (Photo credit: Diane Bondareff)
New York City Global Partners, Inc. hosted its seventh international summit, "Public Health and Climate Change: The Urban Policy Connection" on June 25 - 27, 2008. This summit was produced by New York City Global Partners, Inc. in partnership with two New York City agencies, the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Generous support for the summit was provided by AIG, Columbia University, Deutsche Bank, Pfizer Inc, and Richmond County Savings Foundation.

The summit brought together governmental leaders, policy professionals and renowned intellectuals from 27 cities including Barcelona, Beijing, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Brussels, Copenhagen, Delhi, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Karachi, London, Mexico City, Milan, Montréal, New York City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Rotterdam, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto and Warsaw.

The summit showcased successful city initiatives from New York and around the world that effectively address urban public health issues related to global warming, as well as the interagency strategic plans developed by cities to implement innovative policies and programs.

Professor Meyer Feldberg greets international delegates from Johannesburg
Professor Meyer Feldberg, President of New York City Global Partners, greets international delegates from Johannesburg at the welcome reception. (Photo credit: Victoria Lam)
The summit commenced with a welcome reception at Le Parker Meridien hotel on Wednesday, June 25, 2008. Professor Meyer Feldberg, President of New York City Global Partners and Ambassador Frank Wisner, a board member of Global Partners and Vice Chairman for External Affairs of AIG, gave remarks. Nearly 100 guests were in attendance, and New York and international delegates met for the first time.

Panel I  "Innovative Responses to Public Health Impacts of Climate Change."
Panel I "Innovative Responses to Public Health Impacts of Climate Change."  From Left to Right: Ester Fuchs, David McKeown, Emily Lloyd, Eduardo Jorge.  (Photo credit: Diane Bondareff)
On Thursday, June 26 at Columbia University Low Library, Robert Kasdin, Senior Executive Vice President at Columbia University gave welcome remarks and Professor Meyer Feldberg introduced Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the morning keynote speaker. Mayor Bloomberg's address "Think Locally, Act Globally: How Curbing Global Warming Emissions Can Improve Local Public Health" focused on the responsibility of cities to address the impacts of global warming and the linkage between reducing carbon emissions and improving public health. The Mayor announced the release of a white paper developed by the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that discusses how global climate change mitigation strategies have a direct local public health benefit. The paper was distributed to summit attendees as an advance working copy of an article to be published in the November 2008 edition of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

The summit moderator was Ester R. Fuchs, Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science at Columbia University and member of the Mayor's Advisory Board for Sustainability. The first panel "Innovative Responses to Public Health Impacts of Climate Change" examined successful city initiatives that address public health challenges aggravated by climate change, focusing on air pollution, extreme weather events and changes in water quantity and quality. Panelists included David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto, Emily Lloyd, Commissioner, NYC Department of Environmental Protection and Eduardo Jorge, Secretary of the Environment for the City of São Paulo. Dr. McKeown focused on Toronto's successful use of data illustrating the public health impacts of climate change that was used to implement significant policy measures and adaptation strategies. Commissioner Lloyd emphasized New York City's approaches to maintaining the City's water quality and policies for effective stormwater management. Mr. Jorge referenced São Paulo's responses to three significant health effects from climate change: pulmonary diseases due to poor air quality, infectious diseases such as dengue fever and diseases associated with water quality.

The second panel "Integrated Approaches to Policymaking

Panel II:  "Integrated Approaches to Policymaking and Implementation."
Panel II: "Integrated Approaches to Policymaking and Implementation." From Left to Right: Martha Delgado, Henrik Dissing, Rohit Aggarwala. (Photo credit: Diane Bondareff)
and Implementation" focused on how cities develop comprehensive policy approaches to address climate change and the interagency mechanisms used to implement programs. Panelists included Martha Delgado, Secretary of the Environment for Mexico City, Henrik Dissing, Chief Advisor for Climate Change for the City of Copenhagen and Rohit Aggarwala, Director, NYC Mayor's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability. Each panelist addressed components of their cities' sustainability plans, including how to incorporate multiple agencies and disciplines, include stakeholders and ensure accountability through regular reporting.

Photo of Dr.  Rajendra Pachauri
Dr. Rajendra Pachauri gives luncheon address, June 26, 2008 (Photo Credit: Victoria Lam)
Following the morning program, delegates and other guests headed to the Italian Academy at Columbia University for a luncheon featuring a keynote address by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Marjorie Tiven, Treasurer of New York City Global Partners and New York City Commissioner for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol, introduced Dr. Pachauri.

Dr. Pachauri's address "Climate Change and Urbanization: Challenges for the Future" presented scientific evidence on the occurrence of global warming and its impact on the world's population and resources. He emphasized that urban areas account for 80% of the world's CO2 emissions, and therefore cities have a responsibility to implement policies to reduce their carbon footprint.

Delegates  discuss sustainability strategies
Delegates discuss sustainability strategies during afternoon workshop (Photo Credit: Carmen Genao)
In the afternoon, New York and international delegates participated in technical assistance and informal workshops. These workshops gave participants an opportunity to share the challenges they face with experts and colleagues who provided valuable insight from their own experiences. The first technical assistance session focused on Health Impact Assessments and was moderated by Dr. Patrick L. Kinney, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University. Dr. Sylvia Medina, Coordinator of European Programmes, French Institute of Public Health Surveillance, Paris and Dr. Thomas Matte, Director, Environmental Research, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, City of New York, presented tools and strategies that cities can employ to assess the health impacts of harmful air pollutants and extreme heat. Dr. Aaron J. Cohen, Principal Scientist, Health Effects Institute, was a discussant.

The second technical assistance session "Measuring a City's Carbon Footprint" was moderated by Dr. Cynthia E. Rosenzweig, Senior Research Scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Columbia University. Presentations were made by Jim Yienger, Director, Policy Institute, ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability and Jonathan Dickinson, Senior Policy Advisor, Mayor's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability, City of New York.

A facilitated workshop on "Sustainability Planning and Implementation" was moderated by Prof. Steven Cohen, Executive Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University. Discussions grew out of the morning panel on integrated approaches to policymaking and implementation, and delegates shared challenges and best practices in their cities. Edoardo Croci, Deputy Mayor for Transport, Mobility and the Environment, City of Milan, was a discussant.

Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC Department of Transportation, facilitated a workshop on "Developing Clean and Sustainable Public Transportation." Delegates discussed their cities' strategic transportation policies and initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

A closing analysis of the day's program was presented by Dr. Howard Frumkin, Director, National Center for Environmental Health, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thursday's activities concluded with a reception and dinner at the American Museum of Natural History at which Commissioner Marjorie Tiven announced the launch of a groundbreaking project that connects global cities using technology. The Innovation Exchange website brings cities together to share their best practices and to learn from others seeking to solve municipal problems in new ways. Launched as a test website in June 2008, this project was developed by NYC Global Partners in cooperation with the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications and the Mayor's Office of Operations. Summit participants were encouraged to submit their cities' best practices.

Dr. Thomas  Frieden presents NYC's Smoke Free Air Act
Dr. Thomas Frieden presents NYC's Smoke Free Air Act to international delegates at City Hall on Friday, June 27, 2008 (Photo Credit:  Thea Williamson)
The summit continued on Friday, June 27, 2008 at City Hall with a special session on tobacco control led by Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Thomas Frieden. The session "Clearing the Air Indoors: Creating Smoke-Free Places" featured presentations by Dr. Frieden who discussed implementing the City's Smoke Free Air Act, and Dr. Adriana Blanco, a member of the Tobacco Control Team for the Pan American Health Organization. Dr. Blanco offered an international perspective and discussed the Smoke-Free Americas Initiative in Uruguay, the first country in the Americas to pass comprehensive smoke free legislation.

The New York City Waterfalls
Delegates took a harbor tour aboard a Dept. of Environment skimmer boat on Friday (Photo Credit: Thea Williamson)
The summit concluded with a harbor tour aboard the Cormorant, a Department of Environmental Protection skimmer boat. Delegates had a special viewing of The New York City Waterfalls, a major work of public art commissioned by the Public Art Fund in coordination with the City. The installation was designed by artist Olafur Eliasson and features man-made waterfalls on the shores of the New York waterfront.

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