Geneva to Naples #RideforTheirLives
Health organisations unite to cycle 1,500 km from Geneva to Naples to inspire action on air pollution and the climate crisis
The healthcare providers who protect our children's present are riding to protect their future
On 18 October, children’s hospital staff, health sector leaders and specialists, and cycling leaders, set off on a 1,500 km cycle ride from Geneva to Naples as part of Ride for their Lives, a global campaign to inspire action on air pollution and the wider climate crisis.
Ride for Their Lives unites health professionals from around the world to call attention to the climate and air pollution crises, and their devastating effects on the health and future of children. The dedicated healthcare providers are cycling from Geneva, through Italy to Naples, connecting hospitals and health organisations along the way.
Dr Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, World Health Organization’s Head of Climate Change and Health Unit, joining the ride from Geneva to Milan, said: “I am excited to be getting on my bike for ‘Ride for their Lives’ to help highlight the health impacts of the climate crisis, and the death that is caused every 5 seconds by air pollution. WHO is calling on governments to lead a just, equitable and fast phase out of fossil fuels, to achieve a clean energy future that will protect our planet, and ensure longer, healthier lives.”
The cyclists take with them the Healthy Climate Prescription Letter, from 46 million health workers, and the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, both call on governments to deliver on climate action. They also take with them an editorial authored by 16 leading biomedical journals across Africa, and published in 250 health journals, calling on world leaders to deliver climate justice for Africa and other vulnerable countries. The documents are carried in a blue satchel covered in pleas to world leaders from the Young People’s Forum at Great Ormond Street Hospitals in London. The calls for action will be delivered to the UN Climate Change Conference, COP27 in Egypt.
This is one of a series of rides taking place across Europe and North and South America, uniting the voice of the world’s healthcare community.
Dr Heather Lambert, a retired paediatrician from the Great North Children's Hospital, UK, said: “The causes of air pollution and climate change are similar and, I feel as a paediatrician I have a duty to speak up about the harm these are doing to the health of our children. There are solutions; and we are riding to inspire and encourage others to advocate and demand joined-up action at all levels – political, institutional and, individual.”
Ron Lavater, CEO, International Hospital Federation, Geneva, said: “As the global voice of hospitals, the IHF has a responsibility to raise awareness about climate change not only as an environmental threat, but also as a health emergency. I am excited to be part of the 'Ride for Their Lives' initiative and happy to dedicate a day to cycling for a healthy climate.
Bertrand Levrat, Director-General of the University Hospitals of Geneva, said: “I am personally committed to ensuring that Swiss and international hospitals reduce their carbon footprint and thus contribute to the health of the population and our children. For this reason, I am delighted to participate in this awareness-raising cycling event.”
Ilaria Mariotti, Family Paediatrician in Modena, and member of the Cultural Association of Pediatrics, Italy said: “Climate and environmental hazards are having devastating impacts on the well-being and future of children. This is especially true for disadvantaged children. For these reasons, I believe that health professionals should be involved in these issues. It's great to be part of Ride for their Lives!"!”
Lorenzo Calia, CEO of Uppa publishing house, Italy, said: “We all need to work together to protect children's health and their future from the impacts of the climate crisis. As a publishing house specialising in parenting and childhood, we need to raise awareness and educate both parents and children on how they can reduce their carbon footprint and make better choices. The future of our planet is a top priority for those who work on children's health.”
Anna Russell, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Director at Bupa, a long-term sponsor, said: “These rides do so much good by raising awareness of the climate crisis. As a healthcare company, we have a responsibility to act now to tackle this crisis. That’s why at Bupa, we have made it part of our mission to minimise the impact of healthcare on the planet, find more sustainable healthcare solutions, and in doing so, help people live longer, healthier, happier lives, and make a better world.”
Ride for their Lives was initiated and is led by paediatric healthcare professionals to collaborate and inspire action within health institutions and beyond to act now on the climate crisis, and save children’s lives. In 2021, children's hospital staff and health sector leaders cycled 1,500 km from the World Health Organization in Geneva via London to COP26 in Glasgow and took their message to world leaders. The campaign has inspired global support, with rides taking place across the world. The riders are entirely self-funded, showing their dedication to inspire action.
Paediatricians cycling for the entire two-week journey include Dr Mark Hayden, consultant intensivist at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Dr Heather Lambert, a retired paediatrician who both took part in the ride to Glasgow last year and cycled from London to Geneva this May for the World Health Organisation's "Global Walk the Talk" campaign to meet Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.
In a coordinated act of international collaboration, the first leg of the ride travels from Palais des Nations in Geneva to the Union des Cyclistes Internationale (UCI) in Aigle, with the participation of the World Health Organization, International Hospital Federation, University Hospitals of Geneva, the UK National Health Service, Union Cycliste Internationale. In Italy, they will be joined by the Italian Cultural Association of Pediatricians (ACP), Bicitime Racing Team and UPPA, an independent publishing house dedicated to parenting issues and other health providers for different legs of the journey, which passes through Milan, Modena, Florence and Rome, to inspire collaborative action to protect people and the planet.
Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental threats to human health, alongside climate change. Almost 99% of the world’s population live in places where air pollution levels exceed WHO guidelines. UNICEF estimates that approximately one billion children - nearly half of all children in the world - are at ‘extremely high risk’ of impacts from the climate crisis.
Notes to Editors
Photos of the launch and the ride can be found here
This will be updated as the ride progresses
For more information please contact
Jo Rogers on +44 7969 083 371 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Clark on +44 7740 647 023 and email@example.com
17 October launch event. 11:30 CEST at the front entrance of University Hospitals of Geneva, Rue Gabrielle-Perret-Gentil 4, 1205. Riders and representatives from WHO, IHF, HUG, UCI and childrens hospital staff launched the ride.
18 October Ride sets off, 08:00 - 08:30 CEST departure CEST. Broken Chair monument, Palais des Nations in Geneva to the Union des Cyclistes Internationale (UCI) in Aigle (ETA 16:30). Children's Hospital staff and other healthcare providers will be joined by Dr Campbell-Lendrum, World Health Organization’s Head of Climate Change and Health, David Lappartient, president of Union Cycliste Internationale and Ron Lavater, CEO of International Hospital Federation.
Please find more information here
19 October- Aigle to Brig, Switzerland
20 October - Brig, Switzerland to Verbania, Italy
21 October - Arrive in Milan
23 October - Arrive in Modena to meet health workers at the Piccolo Principe paediatric clinic
24 October - University of Modena event, 10:30 journalists are invited
25 October - Cyclists will visit Meyer Children’s Hospital, Florence, which leads the way with healthy hospital design
28 October - Rome 20:00 Critial Mass Roma event
31 October - Arrival in Naples
UN Climate Change Conference, COP27 November 6th - 18th November
The blue satchel with messages for climate action will be delivered to COP27
9 November 1 pm (GMT+2) 11 am (GMT), Ride For Their Lives session in WHO’s Health Pavilion in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Ride for their Lives
Ride for Their Lives launched in October 2021 when children's hospital staff and health sector leaders cycled from Geneva via London to COP26 in Glasgow. They delivered both the Healthy Climate Prescription letter, and WHO’s COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health to government delegates from both the COP26 and the COP27 presidencies. Building on the success, this year the campaign has gone global, and, in the lead up to COP27, there are many rides taking place in the UK and abroad. Ride for Their Lives is calling on health providers and organisations to sign the Healthy Climate Prescription letter, and support the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty - both call on governments to deliver on climate action.
Ride for their Lives is grateful to the World Health Organization, International Hospitals Federation, University Hospitals of Geneva, Global Climate and Health Alliance, UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, Bupa, and many other organisations for their participation in the campaign.
Air pollution and the climate emergency:
The Royal College for Paediatric and Children’s Health states that almost all children (more than 99%) are exposed to one or more climate and environmental risks to their health. UNICEF estimates that approximately one billion children - nearly half - are at ‘extremely high risk’ of impacts from the climate crisis.
WHO states that air pollution is "one of the biggest environmental threats to human health, alongside climate change” and almost 99% of the world’s population live in places where air pollution levels exceed WHOs guidelines.
The causes of air pollution are often the same as the causes of the climate emergency – the majority of air pollution is from burning fossil fuels for power, transport and industry. And because the causes are largely the same, the solutions can also be the same - renewable energy, electric mobility, public transport, and more walking and cycling.
Globally, air pollution kills an estimated 7 million people a year. In the UK it causes an estimated 28,000-36,000 premature deaths a year - including that of 9-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who died in 2013. In a landmark case in December 2020 the coroner named air pollution as a cause of death.
Air pollution contributes to respiratory conditions like asthma, as well as lung cancer and heart disease. Evidence is emerging that it also contributes to dementia, low birth weight and type 2 diabetes. Increasingly it is being linked to mental illness as well as physical illness. Recently the World Health Organisation tightened its guidelines on air pollution levels, describing it as “on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking”. As with the climate emergency, kids are worst affected. They are closer to exhaust fumes, their lungs and brains are still developing, and they breathe faster.
Poorer children in urban settings are most exposed, increasing the impact of social inequalities.
Bupa: Bupa is a sponsor of the Ride for their Lives. About Bupa’s Environment and Climate Action:
Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives and making a better world. For 75 years, we’ve been taking care of people’s health. Today, we understand that to continue to do so, we must take care of the health of the planet too, because healthy people need a healthy planet. It's our mission to minimise the impact of healthcare on the environment, to find more sustainable healthcare solutions, and to create healthier, greener spaces where people can thrive. Underpinning this ambition, we have set science-based targets to become a Net Zero business by 2040, to help make a better world for our colleagues, customers, communities, and wider society.
Climate Acceptance Studios: believes that who is delivering messages on the climate and nature crisis is as important as the message itself. We exist to support the most trusted and influential voices in society as they raise the alarm. We develop campaigns, such as Ride for their Lives, and produce content designed to foster collaboration between different groups already focused on the problem and inspire more to action. We are focused for 2022 and 2023 on the international healthcare community.
The Healthy Climate Prescription letter is signed by organisations representing 46 million health workers worldwide. The letter warns the climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity and calls on world leaders to deliver on climate action and calls on all governments “to avert the impending health catastrophe by limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and to make human health and equity central to all climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) and almost 200 other health associations and 1400+ health workers have called on governments to urgently develop and implement a global Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to end global dependence on fossil fuels, in order to protect the health of people around the world. The campaign urges governments to agree to a legally binding plan to phase out fossil fuel exploration and production, and has wide support from the Dalai Lama and 100 other Nobel laureates, the Vatican, several cities and island states, and almost 3,000 scientists and academics.