Defining Roles and Responsibilities of the Health Workforce to Respond to the Climate Crisis

Importance  The adverse effects of climate change are now apparent, disproportionately affecting marginalized and vulnerable populations and resulting in urgent worldwide calls to action. Health professionals occupy a critical position in the response to climate change, including in climate mitigation and adaptation, and their professional expertise and roles as health messengers are currently underused in the society-wide response to this crisis.

Observations  Clinical and public health professionals have important roles and responsibilities, some of which are shared, that they must fill for society to successfully mitigate the root causes of climate change and build a health system that can reduce morbidity and mortality impacts from climate-related hazards. When viewed through a preventive framework, the unique and synergizing roles and responsibilities provide a blueprint for investment in climate change–related prevention (primary, secondary, and tertiary), capacity building, education, and training of the health workforce. Substantial investment in increasing the competence and collaboration of health professionals is required, which must be undertaken in an urgent, coordinated, and deliberate manner.

Conclusions and Relevance  Exceptional collaboration, knowledge sharing, and workforce capacity building are essential to tackle the complex ways in which climate change threatens health. This framework serves as a guide for health system leaders, education institutions, policy planners, and others seeking to create a more resilient and just health system.


Sorensen CJFried LP. Defining Roles and Responsibilities of the Health Workforce to Respond to the Climate Crisis. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(3):e241435. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.1435