After an extremely busy period during April and May, we have used the post-Budget and Emissions Reduction Plan period to begin drafting our updated 2-year strategic plan. This will be completed by late July and guide our work over the 2022-24 period. We are keen to hear any suggestions from our members around this – the areas you feel are most important, and where best to direct our energy and resources. Matariki also gave us a chance to recover, plan and consider the role mātauranga Māori must have in our climate response.
Since our last Newsletter, we have welcomed Pegasus Health PHO as the latest signatory to our Joint Call for Action. We submitted on the crucial Draft National Adaptation Plan in early June, and the government's proposed Emissions Budgets later in the month. We also have had a series of articles in the NZ Doctor and Stuff media, and presented at the NZ Medical Students' Association annual conference.
We also farewelled our excellent and long-standing coordinator, Julia Crosfield, who will be joining the fantastic "Growing Up In New Zealand" longitudinal trial team. We are delighted to announce Grant Brookes as our new coordinator. Grant comes with a long pedigree of climate action and we are really encouraged by his enthusiasm for the climate and health message.
Ngā mihi nui
Dermot and Summer,
Co-convenors, OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council
July 2022 Newsletter
Update on OraTaiao activities
Good news, interesting links, books
Update on OraTaiao activities
Introducing our new Coordinator
OraTaiao welcomes Grant Brookes as our new Coordinator. Grant is a Mental Health Nurse who also brings a wealth of experience in campaigning and advocacy, strategic communications and policy development in health sector unions and membership-based NGOs. He has worked in kaupapa Māori, mainstream and Tiriti-based organisations, and from 2015 to 2020 served as the President of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa. His other current roles include National Co-Convenor of the Public Service Association's Eco Network.
OraTaiao Coordinator Grant Brookes. Photo: Supplied
Introducing himself, Grant says:
“Ko wai ahau?
Ko Kapukataumahaka te māuka
Ko Ōwheo te awa
Ko Cornwall tōku waka
Ko Tangata Tiriti tōku iwi
Nō Ōtepoti ahau, engari kei te noho ināianei ki Pōneke
Ko Don rāua ko Helen ōku mātua
Ko Grant Brookes tōku ingoa.
Originally from Dunedin, I am a descendent of Scottish ancestors who arrived in 1849 aboard the Cornwall. Now living in Wellington, my formative years were spent by the Water of Leith, overlooked by Mount Cargill. The son of Don and Helen, my name is Grant Brookes, and I'm very excited to be taking up the role of OraTaiao Coordinator.”
Speaking truth to power
It's been another busy time for OraTaiao submitters. At the beginning of June, we sent our submission on the Draft National Adaptation Plan to the Ministry for the Environment Manatū Mō Te Taiao. The submission was prepared by representative members of OraTaiao including our Executive Board, Sylvia Boyd and Matthew Jenks. It stresses that the National Adaptation Plan must centralise Te Ao Māori, and return agency and leadership to iwi and hapū around the country. We also recommend that the National Adaptation Plan should focus more on driving emissions reductions, and not simply on adaptation.
At the end of June, we produced a submission for the Environment Committee Komiti Taiao, which is considering the recently published emissions budgets and the first Emissions Reduction Plan. Thanks to Liz Springford and Scott Metcalfe for leading this mahi on our behalf. “We have mixed feelings about this plan”, they say. “We are both relieved that legislative and governmental structures are in place with the first plan for climate action finally being proposed, and deeply concerned at how slow and limited this action is.”
A win for climate action in Tāmaki Makaurau
Our OraTaiao submissions don't always receive positive personal feedback. But after Auckland Council Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau voted last month to approve their budget with the Climate Targeted Rate, OraTaiao received an acknowledgement from Mayor Phil Goff’s Office on the importance of our submission and our submission guide in highlighting the significance of this groundbreaking budget.
We are pleased to pass on this pānui from the Mayor to OraTaiao members who made a submission using our guide and to our Transport Working Group – particularly Hayleigh Frost, Dr James Hamill and our Co-convenors. The Transport Working Group has followed up this submission with the publication of an Active Transportation Policy Statement, which we hope will be equally influential.
Auckland Council: “Council backs Goff Climate Action Budget”
OraTaiao: Active Transportation Policy Statement
“Food, Health, and Student Activism”
Each year the New Zealand Medical Students Association holds a conference for students with distinguished speakers and social events. At this year's conference, held in Ōtautahi Christchurch last month, the distinguished speakers included our own Co-convenor, Summer Wright (Ngāti Maniapoto, Pākehā). Summer's presentation on “Food, Health, and Student Activism” gave students an overview of the connection between health and climate change, before focusing on the interlinked systems and processes that influence nutrition, food, health, community development, and agriculture. Her presentation slides are online here.
OraTaiao Co-convenor Summer Wright. Photo: Supplied
Strategic plan update
A full day workshop was held in Pōneke Wellington on Saturday 28 May to review and update the OraTaiao Strategic Plan 2020-2022. The workshop was well supported, with 27 members participating in person or on virtual platforms. Key questions on the day included how OraTaiao engages with its members and how we approach Te Tiriti o Waitangi. A new element in our planning process is the development of a theory of change for OraTaiao, clearly articulating how our actions will enable us to reach our vision of a "Healthy Planet, Healthy People". If you would like to contribute on these (or other) strategic questions, please feel free to email [email protected] with your ideas. The resulting Strategic Plan 2022-2024 will be approved by the OraTaiao Board and published later this month.
OraTaiao strategic planning. Photo: Supplied
Welcome to new members!
We are delighted to welcome more new members. Our membership has been steadily growing, with 30 new people joining OraTaiao in the first half of the year. Our total membership now exceeds 900. We really value this support. We are also always happy to support our members – both new, and long-standing – in getting involved in our work when they have capacity.
A chance to get involved
There is a huge amount happening in the climate and health space at the moment, and the OraTaiao Board would like to give an update to members on the work we've been doing – and more importantly, to give members a chance to talk to us directly and advise us on the things you'd like to see. We'd love to see you at an open Zoom at 7.30 on Thursday, 14 July, for an hour to hear your views and ideas. Please register in advance for this meeting at this link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
In the media spotlight
Coinciding with the government's pre-Budget announcements on climate change and health funding, the 11 May issue of New Zealand Doctor Rata Aotearoa was dedicated to the topic of “Green Health”. OraTaiao members and spokespeople featured prominently in its pages. We are grateful to NZ Doctor for agreeing to remove the paywall on the cover stories of this special issue, to make them accessible to all OraTaiao members.
NZ Doctor: “Targeting puffers and politicians”
NZ Doctor: “Covering bases in Bay of Plenty”
NZ Doctor: “Healthy foods for healthy planet”
NZ Doctor: “Long-haul a climate dilemma”
NZ Doctor: “Nurse, farmer turned health leader”
Image: NZ Doctor
Members who are not current subscribers to NZ Doctor may wish to take out a sub, to access the other quality content it has to offer. Among these other articles is a post-Budget analysis by our Co-convenor Dermot Coffey: “The little country that couldn’t?”
Co-convenor Summer Wright (Ngāti Maniapoto, Pākehā) has also been in the media spotlight recently, as the subject of a marvelous feature in Stuff's “Forever Project” Matariki magazine.
Lancet Planetary Health: “Strengthen land rights for indigenous peoples”
“Planetary health and one health researchers should make explicit the links between land rights and health.” This is the call from a team at the Center for One Health Research at the University of Washington, writing in the May issue of The Lancet Planetary Health.
Noting that 80% of the world's remaining biodiversity is stewarded by Indigenous peoples, they argue that securing Indigenous land rights is crucial to halting ecosystem destruction and, in turn, disease emergence and climate change. “Indigenous resistance movements and land defenders across the world are fighting every day to reclaim their lands and halt extractive activities”, they say. “Breaking the cycle of ecological and epistemological extraction perpetuated by settler colonialism and Western science will require the centring Indigenous voices.”
The Lancet Planetary Health: “Prevent pandemics and halt climate change? Strengthen land rights for Indigenous peoples”
The Conversation: “World’s affluent must start eating local food"
New research published in Nature Food journal has found that global food-miles account for nearly a fifth of total food-systems emissions. Although carbon emissions associated with food production are well documented, this study is described as the most detailed of its kind.
“We found global food miles emissions were about 3 billion tonnes each year, or 19% of total food emissions”, say the joint Australian-Chinese research team. “This is up to 7.5 times higher than previous estimates.” They acknowledge that food miles should not be considered the only indicator of environmental impact. For example, an imported food produced sustainably may have a lower environmental impact than an emissions-intensive local food. But there is much scope to reduce food transport emissions, especially in richer countries.
The Guardian: “We cannot adapt our way out of climate crisis” – “Sharp cut in methane now”
Two recent Guardian articles reinforce key messages in OraTaiao's submission on the Draft National Adaptation Plan. “The world cannot adapt its way out of the climate crisis”, writes the paper's environment correspondent, Fiona Harvey. Citing Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy and professor at Texas Tech University, Harvey warns that, “counting on adaptation to limit damage is no substitute for urgently cutting greenhouse gases.”
The warning is timely, echoing OraTaiao's own recommendation to the Ministry for the Environment Manatū Mō Te Taiao that, “the National Adaptation Plan takes more into account its crucial role in driving emissions reductions as well as simply adaptation.”
Our submission calls specifically for measures to reduce the size of the national dairy herd. As well as adapting to the threat to clean freshwater from climate change, we say, this will have the co-benefits of reducing methane emissions from agriculture and improving health by increased uptake of plant-based diets. The second Guardian article meanwhile argues that, “Cutting methane sharply now is crucial, as focusing on carbon dioxide alone will not be enough to keep rising temperatures within livable limits.”
The US Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the White House, has launched the Health Care Sector Climate Pledge, inviting healthcare organizations to commit to lowering their greenhouse gas emissions and building more climate resilient infrastructure. More info and resources available here.
The University of California Center for Climate, Health and Equity, dedicated to the proposition that “taking action on climate change is one of the most powerful health interventions of our time,” officially launched in May. A full website is still under development, but you can register for updates here.
The Global Climate and Health Alliance, which OraTaiao belongs to, is disappointed by the failure of the Bonn Climate Conference to support low income countries in dealing with harms experienced due to climate change.
Good news, interesting links, books
“Healthy Conversation” webinar series – monthly from 30 June
The Climate and Health Alliance, an Australia-based network of health professionals and organisations (including OraTaiao), has begun a monthly series of webinars. Titled, “Healthy Conversation”, they aim to cover all things climate and health, and to bring together a community of advocates for discussion and exchange of ideas. The first of these webinars, which took place on 30 June, was on the basics of talking about climate change in your health workplace. A recording is available here. To find out more about “Healthy Conversation” and register for future webinars, go to www.caha.org.au/conversation.
'Doc Edge Festival' offerings
The 2022 Doc Edge Festival runs in theatres and online until 10 July. This year's line-up features a number of documentaries which might be of interest to OraTaiao members. In “Finite: The Climate of Change”, activists take to the trees in Germany to save a 12,000-year-old forest from the expansion of one of europe’s biggest coal mines, forming an unlikely alliance with a frustrated community in rural northeast England.
Protesting the proposed coal mine in rural northeast England. Photo: Earth First UK
“Into the Ice” follows three of the world’s leading glaciologists as they collect data about the Greenland Ice Sheet. “Going Circular” explores the circular economy, an economic system based on the idea that nothing should go to waste. Instructions on “How to watch” are here.
Special issue call for abstracts: Planetary health and mental health nursing
Relational practice is the foundation of mental health nursing, but have mental health nurses also considered their relationship with the planet? For an upcoming special issue of the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, the Editors invite abstracts that outline proposed manuscripts in the following areas:
• Planetary health, mental health and nursing education
• Climate change and the impact on mental health
• Disasters and the impact on mental health
• Climate change and mental health experiences
• The role of mental health nurses in planetary health
• Mental health and nature
This newsletter was written by Grant Brookes.
OraTaiao: New Zealand Climate and Health Council