Perspective COP21: Three MOOCs dedicated to “Climate Change and Health” Being Developed at the Centre Virchow-Villermé

Professor Rainer Sauerborn, Chair of Public Health at the Heidelberg University, is currently preparing three MOOCs dedicated to climate change and health. These MOOCs, are produced with the technical support of the CVV team and come timely in the year of the crucial world climate negotiation (“COP21”) in Paris. They aim to raise the awareness and knowledge on health as a key argument in the agenda of climate change negotiations.

1) A 1-week “Brief on the role of health for climate policy” for senior policy-makers and members of climate negotiation teams

This 1-week policy brief will review the health and physiological arguments that could play a key role to motivate executives and citizens to accept to adopt new policies and new behaviours for a change towards a low carbon society. Four arguments will be reviewed:

  • Protecting our and our children’s health is a key motivation for citizens and hence policy makers to act against climate change
  • Health co-benefits of climate-protecting policies & behaviours are large
  • The physiological limits to human capacity to adapt to climate change
  • The substantial decrease of work productivity in a warmer world, particularly in poor countries.


This policy brief will be launched at the World Health Summit in Berlin in October 2015 and hence will be online before COP21. It is dedicated to senior policy-makers & members of teams of climate negotiation, including but not limited, to the upcoming COP21 or CM10 in November – December 2015 in Paris.

2) A 5-week MOOC “Climate change and health – impacts and responses”

This 5-weeks MOOC will be a general introduction to climate change and health. It will review the basis of this problematic by giving inputs on several topics: the scientific basis of anthropogenic climate change, the impacts of climate change on a range of infectious, non-communicable diseases, injuries and malnutrition. This MOOC will review practical strategies to protect population health, dubbed “adaptation” in climate-speak, while stressing the limits of adaptations. It concludes by pointing to the many synergies between policies to improve health and climate policies. These so called “health co-benefits of climate policy” include e.g. strategies to increase walking and biking, to reduce indoor and outdoor air-pollution and more. At the end of this MOOC, the participants should be able to recognise the linkage between climate change and health and know strategies to protect health from the ill effects of climate change. Participants should be in a position to raise the “voice” of health in climate discussions at local, national and international levels both as an argument to keep the world from warming beyond 2°C and as a positive argument that a climate friendly world will also be a healthier world. This MOOC will be available in English between December 2015 and March 2016.

3) A 5-week French-language MOOC “Santé et climat en Afrique Sub-Saharienne”

This 5-week MOOC will be delivered in French and follows the layout of the preceding MOOC. However all examples and cases will be drawn from Sub-Saharan Africa and about ½ of the course will be taught by African scientists. Interviews will be made with key policy makers, representatives of NGOs and the civil society. This MOOC, to be recorded in Burkina Faso, will be the first on the topic to bring to bear the voice of those who will suffer most from climate change.

Licence Creative Commons


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