Eye Health and Climate Change: Responsible Consumption & Production
Date: Wednesday, 1st December
Time: 08:45 am EST
Climate change and eye health are linked in a cause-and-effect cycle that threatens to undo decades of progress in global health.
As a follow-up to the recent Climate Action Conference (COP26), the United Nations (UN) Friends of Vision are bringing together UN Diplomats and agencies, as well as academics, environmentalist and eye health experts to discuss the impact of eye health on the climate and how climate change will disrupt critical eye care services.
This virtual event will build upon the work of IAPB’s Climate Action Working Group and focus on the links between eye health and Sustainable Development Goal 12 – responsible consumption and production – and call upon the sector to mitigate its carbon footprint, reduce its environmental impact and support climate resilience.
Aim: This event will raise awareness of how climate change is a health issue, not just an environment issue, and that planetary healthis a key component to improving quality of eye care. It will also address how environmentally sustainable eye health services are required to make progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Format: Moderator-led discussion with panel followed by Q & A with the audience
Changing Health Care Needs: All countries will experience the health impacts of climate change. Those with, or at higher risk of visual impairment and disabilities, will be disproportionately impacted.
Consumption and Production in Eye Health Care: SDG 12 calls upon the eye sector to mitigate its carbon footprint, reduce its environmental impact and support climate resilience.
Eye Health, Climate and Vulnerable Populations: The effects of climate change on eye health vary by region and season, but they are harsher on those already living in marginal conditions.
Call to Action: Embed environmental sustainability within all operations of healthcare sector and ensure strategies promote equity and fairness for vulnerable populations
Co-Founder Moderate the Panel, Broadcaster & Journalist
Femi Oke is an award-winning international journalist, broadcaster, professional moderator and co-founder of the diverse moderators bureau “Moderate The Panel.” Femi’s reporting has been recognised by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Communications Agency and InterAction. As a professional moderator Femi has presided over world class events including European Development Days, NBA Africa Celebratory Luncheon for the U.S. National Basketball Association, and the historic inaugural Barbershop Conference at the United Nations Headquarters.
H.E. Ambassador Walton Webson
Permanent Representative, Mission of Antigua and Barbuda and Co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision Group
H.E. Dr. Walton Webson is the Permanent Representative of the Mission of Antigua and Barbuda and Founder/Co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision Group. Previously, Ambassador Webson worked for several international nongovernment organizations including Sight Savers International of the (UK), The Caribbean Council for the Blind, (Antigua and Barbuda), Hellen Keller International of New York and Perkins International. At the UN, Ambassador Webson has served as President for UNICEF, chaired numerous steering committees and was the lead sponsor on two resolutions affecting the lives of persons with disabilities around the world and is considered as a champion on disabilities issues and a leading voice on issues of Small States.
H.E. Ambassador Rabab Fatima
Permanent Representative, Mission of Bangladesh and Co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision Group
H.E. Ambassador Rabab Fatima is the Permanent Representative of the Mission of Bangladesh, and Co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision Group. Ambassador Fatima is a career diplomat who served in various Bangladesh missions including, in the Permanent Mission to the UN New York, Kolkata, Permanent Mission to the UN Geneva, and Bangladesh Embassy in Beijing. She has served in various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Commonwealth Secretariat as Head of Human Rights, the International Organization for Migration as the Regional Representative for South Asia, and as the Regional Adviser for South and South-west Asia & Regional Adviser for Climate Change and Migration in IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Bryne Nason
Permanent Representative, Mission of Ireland and Co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision Group
H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Bryne Nason is the Permanent Representative of the Mission of Ireland and Co-chair of the UN Friends of Vision Group. During her career, Ambassador Byrne Nason has served in Brussels, New York, Paris, Vienna and Helsinki. As Second Secretary-General in the Department of the Taoiseach from 2011-2014, she was the highest ranking female public servant in Ireland and was Secretary General of Ireland’s Economic Management Council. Since her arrival in New York, Ambassador Byrne Nason has been Chair of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and more recently co-chaired high level political negotiations on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela and on the pathway for Small Island Developing States, ahead of the major summit on that subject in September 2019.
Cassandra Thiel, PhD
Assistant Professor, Dept of Population Health
Assistant Professor, Dept of Ophthalmology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine
Dr. Thiel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, NYU Grossman School of Medicine and holds faculty appointments with NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and NYU Tandon School of Engineering, in the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering. Her research utilizes life cycle assessment and principles of industrial ecology to analyse and improve the environmental performance of infrastructure systems, hospital design, healthcare practice, and medical technologies. As a 2014–2015 Fulbright–Nehru fellow, she analysed the materials used, the waste generated, and the environmental footprint of cataract surgery at Aravind Eye Care System in southern India and co-authored the study Cataract surgery and environmental sustainability: Waste and lifecycle assessment of phacoemulsification at a private healthcare facility (2017).
Dr. Thulasiraj Ravilla
Executive director of the Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology
Dr. Ravilla is a founding member of, as well as the current Executive Director of Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology (LAICO) and the Director-Operations for the Aravind Eye Care System. He is the Founder President of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight-India and presently sits as an honorary member in Management Board. He is a Board Member of Acumen Fund – USA, Aravind Eye Foundation – USA, Indian Institute of Health Management and Research, Bangalore as well as the President of Aurolab Trust. He is also a member of several National and International Advisory Committees on Eye Care. Dr Ravilla co-authored the study Cataract surgery and environmental sustainability: Waste and lifecycle assessment of phacoemulsification at a private healthcare facility (2017).
Chief Executive Officer, The Fred Hollows Foundation
Mr. Wishart is the current Chief Executive Officer for the Fred Hollows Foundation. As one of Australia’s most experienced international development leaders, he has spent the past 28 years involved in virtually every aspect of aid and human rights including emergency relief operations, long term development and influential policy and advocacy initiatives. Prior to his appointment at The Fred Hollows Foundation, he served as CEO of Plan International Australia and earlier with World Vision Australia where he managed the humanitarian response team before spending three years as World Vision’s Country Director in Laos, and as an advisor to the CEO.
Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization
Mr. Stewart Simonson, from United States of America, was most recently Assistant Director-General for General Management. He brings more than 20 years of experience in corporate governance, risk management and administration that spans across the government, non-governmental and private sectors. His past roles include serving as Senior Vice President and General Counsel to the Futures Group Global LLC, and most recently, as Legal Advisor for the Crudem Foundation, where he functioned as legal counsel to the foundation and technical advisor to its partner hospital in Haiti.
From 2001 to 2006, he served in the United States Department of Health and Human Services in different capacities, including as Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness. In this role, he served as the Secretary’s principal advisor on matters related to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies and coordinated the development of the United States government’s position on the revision of the International Health Regulations. He has degrees in law and political science.
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