Climate crisis and health: a call for papers


In September 2021, a few weeks before the Climate Conference (COP26) in the United Kingdom, BMJ Global Health joined more than 200 other medical and public health journals to note that “the greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C and to restore nature”.1 While the science has been unequivocal for more than a decade,  the reality of climate crisis has hit us with great force over the past year. From intense heat waves in India, Senegal and the UK, floods in Pakistan to forest fires in Europe, to food insecurity in Latin America – climate change is no longer a distant challenge ‘somewhere else’, but a lived experience. There is global consensus that the window to tackle this existential challenge is rapidly closing.

Through this focussed call for papers, we intend to go beyond the dominant academic discourse on the direct and indirect impact of climate crisis on health.  We encourage submissions which look at climate crisis as a complex system, on health systems resilience, on mitigation, adaptation, and dual benefits, on food and nutrition security, on the politics of climate change in health, on the (im)mobility of populations and on knowledge translation efforts for action. The focus of the call also includes solutions and actions that involve tackling non-climatic drivers of climate change effects.  However, non-climatic drivers of the climate crisis include, but are not limited to social, economic, political, and commercial determinants that increase the vulnerability or exposures to effects of the climate crisis.2 Many of these determinants trigger cascading effects and enhance inequity. We call for field experiences, as well as more political studies (on perceptions and actions of politicians and the relation between state and the public in shaping climate action perceptions), the role of affected communities including women and young people and reflections on knowledge translation.

That “wealthy nations must do much more, much faster”1 on limiting global temperature rise is well recognised. While governments commitment for decreasing greenhouse emissions are made in climate change events, contrary (or climate-blind) plans and visions are still being elaborated on in business summits. Carbon offsetting (carbon credit) systems have been often discredited as elaborate bookkeeping measures, with no real additional cuts in emission materialising.3 But what new modalities of financing can enable climate justice?  What does “loss and damage” climate financing mean in the context of the unrealised promise of $100-billion per year by  2020 and every year thereafter through 2025  for financing mitigation and adaption measures for climate change? 4

We encourage papers on climate crisis and health which take the lens of climate justice, human rights, intergenerational justice, and international relations. We also encourage submissions on litigation under international climate laws. Papers on the health status (including mental health) of those migrating to avoid the consequences of climate crisis, and the effect of climate-triggered migration (including that of health workers) on health and health systems are within the scope of this call. Papers on how gender roles might moderate the consequences of climate risk on different communities, are also within the scope of this call. Climate change impacts health of women, men, and other genders differentially, through changes in current roles in societies and by exacerbating existing gender inequalities.5-7 For example, after climate change triggered extreme weather events, men leave their communities to find jobs, while women stay at home assuming the “role” of sole care takers, and additional responsibilities that men leave behind.6

We aim to contribute to the debate on adopting a decolonial approach to climate change research and practice. 8-11

As for example, a major focus of climate change research and action by “researchers, the United Nations, international funders and many nations looking for diets that are good for both health and the planet.”12-16  The desire to dictate diets is not only impractical, but also comes from a culture-blind lens which fails to recognise that food is intricately related to cultural identity. There are additional risks on focussing on dietary change, because it shifts responsibility from government action for large systems change (which can be game-changers) to individuals17.  In contrast to these conventional approaches lies the approach proposed in  the White/Wiphala Paper on Indigenous Peoples’ food systems, where autonomy  remains key11 . Papers highlighting what we learn from Indigenous knowledge systems are within the scope of this call.

There is a push by global health actors (including but not limited to funding agencies) to use the ‘planetary health’ framing. This framing is philosophically anthropo-centric and limits the perspective to optimising the environment for human utility.18 As such, the ‘planetary health’ framing can be alienating for eastern, African, and Indigenous populations and cultures – who see the value of ecosystem and biodiversity inherently. 8-11 This is particularly challenging when potentially more philosophically aligned holistic approaches like One Health have already gained traction in the policy arena in many countries. 8 19-22

We also seek papers on decolonial approaches to climate change research and action in relation to health. In scope are high-quality in original research, systematic reviews, analyses, practice papers, and commentaries (including those authored by practitioners, decision makers or community representatives without academic affiliation) on climate crisis and health. We particularly welcome papers led by and with a majority of authors based in low-income and middle-income nations. While papers should be in English, we strongly encourage authors to make their manuscript available in other language(s) relevant to the setting of the study. These will be published as an appendix alongside the English version.

Submissions will be open till 5th November 2023. All submissions will be subject to the usual editorial process and article processing charges policy of BMJ Global Health, and accepted articles will be published on an ongoing basis. Authors must choose the relevant Special Issue Option during the submission process.


About the authors: Soumyadeep Bhaumik 1, Carol Zavaleta-Cortijo 2, Diogo Martins 3, Vivekanand Jha ,4, Valéry Ridde 5

  1. Meta-research and Evidence Synthesis Unit, The George Institute for Global Health, India
  2. Unidad de Ciudadanía Intercultural y Salud Indígena (UCISI), Facultad de Salud Pública y Administración, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru
  3. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK; Wellcome Trust, UK
  4. The George Institute for Global Health, India; Imperial College, UK,
  5. Université Paris Cité, IRD, Inserm, Ceped, F-75006 Paris, France ; Institut de Santé et Développement, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal.

Competing interests: None

Funding: None

Handling Editor: Seye Abimbola


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