Reclaiming health activism in the age of the climate crisis

A guide to effective campaigning and advocacy for health professionals


A guide to effective campaigning and advocacy for health professionals


About the guide

This Campaign and advocacy guide is a powerful resource for health care professionals that want to harness their expertise and credibility as trusted voices to drive climate policy changes at local, national, and global levels. The guide provides actionable steps for organizing campaigns, hosting public awareness events, and collaborating with other advocacy groups to maximize impact and reach.

The guide includes a curated collection of case studies showcasing health professionals who have historically played pivotal roles in shaping public policies for clean air, safe drinking water, and other environmental health and social justice advancements. By highlighting these past victories, the guide aims to inspire present-day health professionals to harness their expertise and credibility as trusted voices to drive climate policy changes.

The guide

“Reclaiming health activism in the age of climate crisis” is a compelling campaign guide that draws inspiration from the rich history of health activism in effecting social change. This guide aims to rally health professionals worldwide to take on a new challenge: advocating for climate action on the climate and nature crisis.

Assets you can download and use as you organize, campaign and advocate.

Case studies

Chamber of gas

On the night of 2 December 1984, a defective tank at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India, began leaking 27 tonnes of deadly methyl isocyanate gas into the air.

Deadly air

In March 2022, environmental justice groups in South Africa secured a landmark judgment in a case pertaining to air pollution that has far-reaching consequences for human rights and for air pollution management in South Africa.

Dying for a smoke

Beginning with the first US Surgeon General’s report in the early 1960s, health professionals gradually assumed a leading role in reducing tobacco’s impact on public health.

Health in the time of cholera

The Health of Towns Association in Britain, established in 1844 and composed of health professionals and politicians, is an early example of a public health pressure group.

Mercury-free medicine

In 1996, a nonprofit coalition, Health Care Without Harm, was created to educate and mobilize the health care sector around the links between a healthy environment and healthy people.

Mining justice

Like many occupational diseases, the coal industry’s representation of Pneumoconiosis (black lung disease) was rooted in mischaracterization, denial and lies.


Nursing democracy

The images of nurses protesting outside the White House demanding protective gear to fight COVID-19 in 2020 takes us back a century to a time when nurses joined protests at the White House as part of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.


Pests in the system

The Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) started the aerial spraying of endosulfan over the cashew plantations in the hills around Padre village in Kasaragod district in 1978.

Resistance down under

In recent history, Australia has had a reputation as a “climate laggard”. The 2022 election was the most significant shift in Australian climate politics in a decade.

Rights and wrongs

Growing out of the Medical Committee for Civil Rights, which organized the medical contingent of the March on Washington in 1963, the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR) was created by a group of doctors led by American physician Robert Smith in 1964.


The sound of water

In 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The move was meant to save money. The city, which faced a $30 million budget deficit, had been paying for water supplied through Detroit’s municipal system.


Unhealthy wars

In 1985, a mere five years after its formation, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) had over 135,000 members in 40 countries, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and had accelerated its agenda to the scope of global concern.