Penn Dental Medicine Joins Global Discussion on Climate Change at COP28


Philadelphia – Penn Dental Medicine recently joined in global discussions on sustainability and the impact of climate change on human and oral health, delivering a satellite event as part of COP28, a United Nations climate change conference held Nov. 30 – Dec. 12 in Dubai. In the three decades since the launch of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP) has convened member countries every year. The primary theme this year was for world leaders to take stock of progress on the Paris Agreement, which mobilized global collective action on climate change seven years ago.

On December 11, Penn Dental Medicine’s Morton Amsterdam Dean, Dr. Mark Wolff, and Dr. Michael Glick, Executive Director of the School’s Center for Integrative Global Oral Health (CIGOH), were among a panel of speakers who discussed oral healthcare and education topics through the lens of climate change and planetary health. Dr. Julian Fisher, Director of Oral and Planetary Health Policies within CIGOH, moderated the web-based panel discussion, which in addition to Drs. Wolff and Glick, included faculty from dental schools in Colombia, Germany, Zimbabwe, England, India, and Nigeria, along with the Dental Officer in the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases department of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Mark Wolff

“Climate change presents a fundamental threat to human and oral health,” says Dean Wolff. “Oral health educators and professionals must engage in a transformative agenda and actively participate in efforts to develop a climate-ready health workforce. I’m proud to have CIGOH so actively involved in helping to advance this discussion.”

The WHO Global Oral Health Action Plan (2023 – 2030) grounds oral health in its sustainable development goals, explains Dr. Fisher, and sets out actions for sustainable oral health through a shift to less invasive and environmentally friendly dentistry, along with innovative models for the oral heath workforce that are supported by lifelong learning. The overarching global target of the Plan is that by 2030 for 80% of the global population to have access to essential oral healthcare services.

Dr. Julian Fisher

“The COVID pandemic illustrated why we need to engage at the global, national and sub-national level to ensure that oral health services and care are an integral part of decision-making and planning” says Dr. Fisher. “The CIGOH Global Oral Health education module that reaches over 25 dental schools around the world makes a significant contribution to catalyzing new ways of thinking and working to prepare for an unpredictable future, giving faculty and students the opportunity to share and exchange experiences as well as present at global conferences such as COP Climate Change Conferences.”

In the COP28 panel, titled “Oral Health and Climate Action: How Can We Prepare and Engage?” Dean Wolff opened the program, setting out key issues and opportunities for the oral health community. Dr. Glick discussed the idea of Whole Health and sustainability that can support integrative oral health.

Dr. Michael Glick

“The WHO Action Plan provides a comprehensive foundation for improved governance and coordinated action for oral health and climate action,” notes Dr. Glick. “It put us as dental educators in a position to have a profound impact on how we can come together to improve oral health not only in our local communities but globally.”

The panel discussion in available for viewing via Penn Dental Medicine’s online continuing education portal with the opportunity to simply view the program or to earn continuing education credit as well. View program >>