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Webinar - Moving to Planetary Health: The Next Frontier: What, How, Now!

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In this first webinar in a series hosted by the Global Health Governance: Building the Reset campaign, we will highlight the vital importance of work on planetary health, the next frontier. More than a new discipline, planetary health is an integrated positive vision for the future of health of the human civilization and the planet on which it depends. Contemporary health challenges both old and new such as COVID-19 continue to arise amid dramatic global environmental change – from climate change and urbanization to biodiversity loss and air and water pollution. Meanwhile, in recent years, the evolving planetary health community has energized not just scholars, policymakers, and practitioners, but also younger generations who will inherit today’s problems and lead tomorrow’s governance. This important webinar will bring together voices from various disciplines and sectors at the nexus of health and environment. It will reflect on the transformative power of planetary health as the new compass for renovating health systems governance and improving health for both people and planet in the time of COVID-19 and beyond.


Summary of the session:

This first and very engaging webinar in a series hosted by the Global Health Governance: Building the Reset campaign, highlighted the importance of work on planetary health as the next frontier and integrated governance vision for the future. Around a hundred people participated in this dynamic online encounter, exploring the transformative potential of planetary health as a new compass for renovating health governance. The webinar brought together people from a rich set of backgrounds in health, health policy, and ecology.

Panelists kickstarted the interactions and gave 5-minute reflections each on the question: “How can planetary health serve as the new compass for health systems governance in the time of COVID-19 and beyond?” The four panelists: Dr. David Obura (Founding Director of Coastal Oceans Research and Development Indian Ocean (Cordio) East Africa), Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah binti Mahmood (Special Advisor on Public Health to the Prime Minister of Malaysia), Dr. Tolullah Oni (urban epidemiologist and public health physician at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge); and Dr. Nicole Redvers (assistant professor at the University of North Dakota’s School of Medicine & Health Sciences), all brought a wealth of fundamental considerations to the table. In different ways, they all appealed to join forces in the necessary paradigm shift, which is planetary health. And they emphasized that this shift required work on several fronts at once: (i) to start a deeper conceptual reframing towards ‘systems for health’ instead of ‘health systems’, revisit old narratives and engage in new narrative creations; (ii) to decolonize existing knowledge systems ; (iii) to foster much more radical redressing of existing health practices in order to make them better connected to wider ecological and socio-economic contexts; (iv) to build much deeper interconnectedness, both intellectually and practically, and open up new spaces for this; (v) to stimulate the introduction of longer timelines of reflection, and much more long-term thinking, while not forgetting what older generations too had developed; (vi) to internalize some of the current externalities; and (vi) to shift to translocalism: with rooting local narratives in collective (global) action.

In the exciting interactions led by Dr. Renzo Guinto (Chief Planetary Doctor of PH Lab) which ensued with all participants, it was clear how much interest already exists in the transformations suggested. Some comparisons were made with other integrative movements in health governance such as One-Health. The potential of the sustainable development goals agenda as contributory to integrative planetary health thinking was explored. And a range of constructive suggestions was made for how individuals could link practically with this new future-oriented new governance movement. As panelist Tolullah Oni summed up her main recommendations there: “Address the stagnant mindset of impossibilities | Prioritize learning sharing | Have youth drive the demand, for it is their future which is at stake | Redefine in planetary health terms what it means to be a health professional.

Dr. Marjolaine Nicod (UHC2030 network) closed the meeting by pointing out exiting convergence possibilities for anybody working on the universal health coverage UHC2030 agenda.

Our Panelists:

Jemilah Mahmood

Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah binti Mahmood is the Special Advisor on Public Health to the Prime Minister of Malaysia. From 2016-2020, she served as Under Secretary General for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Previously, Dr. Mahmood was the Chief of the World Humanitarian Summit secretariat at the United Nations in New York; Founder and President of MERCY Malaysia; and member of the Advisory Group of the Central Emergency Response Fund appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

David Obura

Dr. David Obura is a Founding Director of Coastal Oceans Research and Development—Indian Ocean (CORDIO) East Africa, a knowledge organization supporting sustainability of coral reef and marine systems in the Western Indian Ocean. Dr. Obura works to integrate conservation and development through inclusive blue economy principles and links provided by global sustainability goals and targets. He is a member of the Earth Commission is part of the Global Commons Alliance, a new platform for the environment and the economy, aiming to transform the global economy so that society can prosper on a stable and resilient planet.

Tolullah Oni

Dr. Tolullah Oni is an urban epidemiologist and public health physician at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge. She is also an Honorary Associate Professor in Public Health at the University of Cape Town and leads the Research Initiative for Cities Health and Equity (RICHE). Her research focuses on transdisciplinary urban health, generating evidence to support healthy urban development and public policies in rapidly growing cities. She serves on several advisory boards including Future Earth and The Lancet Planetary Health.

Nicole Redvers

Dr. Nicole Redvers, ND, MPH, is an assistant professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine-Indians into Medicine Program (INMED) at the University of North Dakota’s School of Medicine & Health Sciences located in Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA. She is an enrolled member of the Deninu K’ue First Nation Band (Dene) with continued ties to the Canadian north. She is the author of the trade paperback, The Science of the Sacred: Bridging Global Indigenous Medicine Systems and Modern Scientific Principles (North Atlantic Books, March 26, 2019) and is active in promoting Indigenous and planetary health research and practice at local, national and international scales. She is co-founder and board chair of the charity the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation based in the Canadian north, is a Senior Fellow (Indigenous and Community Health) with inVIVO Planetary health, and currently sits on the advisory board for the American Public Health Association's Center for Climate, Health and Equity (APHA CCHE) Steering Committee (2020-2021).

Moderator :

Renzo Guinto

Dr. Renzo Guinto is Chief Planetary Doctor of PH Lab – a “glo-cal think-and-do tank” for advancing the health of both people and the planet. Renzo is Next Generation Adviser of the Lancet One Health Commission hosted by the University of Oslo; member of the Editorial Advisory Board of The Lancet Planetary Health; and adviser to the Forum on Climate Change and Health of the World Innovation Summit for Health. An Obama Foundation Asia-Pacific Leader and Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow, Renzo received his Doctor of Public Health degree from Harvard University; for his doctoral dissertation, he investigated the concept of “climate-smart” health systems in coastal municipalities in the Philippines.


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