August 2021 Newsletter Pānui

August 2021 Newsletter Pānui

Kia ora

Another busy month has passed for OraTaiao - a month that will be remembered for the release of Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis from Working Group A of the IPCC. This is an impressive body of work which outlines the human influence on our climate, removes much uncertainty from earlier models, puts to rest myths about ‘natural variability’ and gives a variety of forecasts for the future changes depending on our actions over the coming years. In reality, it held few surprises, although it has led to extensive coverage in the world’s media and gave a mixture of stark warnings and some potential hope. Importantly, with dedicated, rapid and sustained decarbonisation it will be possible to halt further warming by the middle of this century. It is essential that this is done in a healthy and equitable manner. From a domestic point of view, it was both interesting and reassuring to see the increased focus in this report on methane emissions, and the acknowledgement that proper cuts in methane emissions as well as decarbonisation are needed.

In Aotearoa, OraTaiao submitted on the Exposure Draft of the Natural and Built Environments Bill, (find the link below under OraTaiao activities). Our submission to the Climate Change Commission from earlier this year was featured in Stuff. The RNZCGP conference in Wellington stressed environmental and sustainability matters with OraTaiao getting a small speaking slot, and Professor James Renwick giving one of the keynote speeches (more below under National News). As we move towards COP26 in November the WHO is developing a statement on climate change and health - the draft of this is open for public consultation here. We encourage and look forward to your input.

Remember to let us know of your climate / health related efforts and achievements within your workplaces or classrooms. It’s encouraging to learn of the mahi undertaken by like-minded professionals. 

Mālō e lelei to our Tongan colleagues who are celebrating their language 5 - 11 September.

Nāku noa, nā

Dr Dermot Coffey, OraTaiao Co-Convenor

August 2021 Newsletter


Update on OraTaiao activities
National happenings
International news
Food that’s fair 
Options for actions 
A bit more about that 
Good news, interesting links, books

Update on OraTaiao activities

OraTaiao’s submission on the Exposure Draft of the Natural and Built Environments Bill expanded on three overarching points - one being the need for the role of te ao Māori to be strengthened and centralised within the Bill. This is a first and foundational step in the 3-part renewal of the Resource Management Act.

Read OraTaiao's submission here.
Read about the reform here.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

OraTaiao's Food Procurement Policy gets the attention of Minister O’Connor. The evidence-based policy - written by OraTaiao's Food Working Group members Penny Field, Louise Mainvil, and Anna De Mello and widely disseminated in late May - focussed on the multiple benefits of the government procuring only sustainable, healthy kai that is not climate-intensive and repairing longstanding practices that perpetuate climate and health-induced inequities. 

The written response from the Minister of Agriculture indicated the Government tautoko OraTaiao’s goal of moving towards a fairer, more sustainable food system for New Zealand, stating they envision a future guided by the principle of Te Taiao which recognises the interconnectedness of the health of people and the health of our environment. He acknowledged food procurement policy as a tool to drive more sustainable outcomes, a step that has been taken by the United Kingdom Food Strategy. In New Zealand, this step is predicated on development of a reference diet that integrates both health and environmental outcomes; he noted the latter needs work. 

OraTaiao's 28 May, 2021 media release found here includes a link to the policy statement.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

OraTaiao's Food Working Group invites qualified and interested members to join them in their mahi. Scroll down to 'Food that's fair' for details. 

National happenings

Crown Agents may be directed to measure their emissions from the 2022/23 financial year onwards, reduce these in-line with a 1.5 degree reduction pathway and then report their emissions, reduction plans and progress by December 2023 and each year subsequently. In October, Cabinet will decide whether or when the direction will take effect. The intent is to accelerate emissions reductions in order that the public sector achieves carbon neutrality by 2025 as Aotearoa transitions to a low-emissions, resilient economy.

Read more about the Carbon Neutral Government Programme here.

Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

Royal NZ College of GPs' annual conference includes sustainability theme. At this year's Wellington based event, OraTaiao Co-Convenor, Dr Dermot Coffey, had an opportunity to present some ways for GPs to take climate action and to stress their position as strong community advocates. Professor James Renwick was one of the keynote speakers and gave a clear outline of Aotearoa's current climate position, both in terms of risks, actions, and opportunities. The RNZCGP is a signatory to OraTaiao's Joint Call for Action, and has been taking an increasingly active part in climate advocacy in recent years.

International news

The release of Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis from Working Group A of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has captured the attention of nations around the world. With good reason. While OraTaiao felt it revealed few surprises (see Co-convenor comments above), the use of various scenarios to enhance modeling strengthened levels of certainty.

Find the full report, summaries, and useful tools here.
Click here for a useful insight on the risk of misleading and unhelpful 'apples to oranges' comparisons.

Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

Food that’s fair 

Help grow the capacity and influence of OraTaiao’s Food Working Group. Join this small but dedicated group of health professionals in upholding a key pillar in OraTaiao’s strategic plan:
   To advocate for a te Tiriti-based food system that is equitable, improves  health, and reduces climate pollution.
Contribute to project-based, evidence-based mahi with a direct impact on current and future health outcomes as Aotearoa responds to world-wide trends towards plant-based diets and recommendations from the IPCC and the Climate Change Commission. For more information contact [email protected] briefly describing why this kaupapa appeals to you and outlining your relevant academic or professional background.

Photo by Lewis Wilson on Unsplash

Watch for news of the UN Food Systems Summit taking place in September. Recognizing that food systems are one of the main reasons we are failing to stay within the planet’s ecological boundaries, the Summit, convened by UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, 'aspires to nothing less than sweeping global transformation'.

Take the informative and startling interactive quiz by the UN Environment Programme titled 'How much do you know about the food on your fork?' Here's one free clue that may surprise you: The world produces enough food to feed everyone on the planet. 

Avoid being complicit. Did you know 'eating sustainably caught seafood can help reduce the damage we do to our marine environment'? Overfishing and the way we fish can deplete fish stocks, kill other marine species, and damage our marine environment. 

For smart seafood choices see the Best Fish Guide by Forest and Bird. Note: the app listed in the guide is no longer running.


Options for actions 

Act fast to add your voice to OraTaiao’s feedback on the ‘Public consultation on draft COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health’. We welcome your evidence-based input (please include clear references for sources) sent to: [email protected] by Sunday 22 August.  You can download the draft report and access the online feedback form via the WHO website here 

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Register for webinars Global Climate and Health Alliance will host in the run up to COP26 Connect, learn, share: the webinars will include interactive discussion, skills sharing, and campaign updates. Note: Aug 26, 2021 10:00 AM 'Eastern Time' is 2 a.m. on 27 August in New Zealand. Fortunately, all webinars will be recorded and made available online shortly after the event.

Night owls, register for either or both via these links:

  • 26 Aug – COP 101: What is COP26 and why does it matter for health?* – register here
  • 09 Sept – Advocacy skills for climate action* – register here

Photo by Malte Helmhold on Unsplash

Sign and share a petition following on from the highly contentious and unwelcome news we reported last month re: the All Blacks being sponsored by INEOS. You might consider sharing this on your own social media: 

Join the OraTaiao Food Working Group. In case you overlooked their invitation above, scroll up to Food that's Fair.

A bit more about that 

Aroha mai:

  • Correction to July's newsletter - the organisational membership of S23M is still pending.
  • Broken link: last month, if 'Food that’s fair' didn’t take you to 'Healthy and Climate-Friendly Eating Patterns in the New Zealand Context' you missed some important research by OraTaiao members, Jono Drew, Christina Cleghorn, Alex Macmillan and others. You can, however, (really!) find it here.

Good news, interesting links, books

An Australian glossary on health and climate change - Climate and Health Alliance (  

Nursing’s pivotal role in global climate action | The BMJ

Quiz: How much do you know about the food on your fork? (

Take action | Ministry for the Environment


Newsletter written by Cathy Kern.

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