Why Planetary Health?
The core proposition of planetary health is that human disruption of Earth’s natural systems represents an urgent threat to global human health. The recent emergence of the planetary health concept has been fueled in part by its orientation around three core characteristics: a sharp focus on the human health impacts of accelerating environmental change; an emphasis on the scale of humanity’s ballooning ecological footprint and the extent to which these global changes are likely to drive a majority of humanity’s global burden of disease in coming years; and a sense of urgency to create a new trajectory for human stewardship of Earth’s natural systems driven by these threats. Achieving meaningful progress will require collaboration across a broad swath of scientific disciplines as well as with policy makers, natural resource managers, educators, members of faith communities, community organizations, and, perhaps most importantly, activists and movement builders around the world. Only through this collaboration can we achieve the level of societal change required to meet these challenges.
The Planetary Health Alliance (PHA)
The Planetary Health Alliance (PHA) is a consortium of over 60 universities, NGOs and other partners with a shared mission—supporting the growth of a rigorous, policy-focused, transdisciplinary field of applied research aimed at understanding and addressing the human health implications of accelerating anthropogenic change in Earth’s natural systems. We aim to:
● Build an open access, online education platform to assist faculty around the world in designing and teaching courses on planetary health;
● Capture emerging planetary health scientific literature and relevant professional opportunities in a monthly newsletter to stimulate engagement with this growing field;
● Convene the planetary health community of practice at the Planetary Health Annual Meeting;
● Cultivate the next generation of planetary health scholars through supporting a Rockefeller Foundation Fellows Postdoctoral program, building a community of “emerging scholars” in planetary health, and seeding a global network of planetary health journal clubs;
● Build a virtual community of planetary health researchers, educators and policymakers through our website, social media platforms, and webinars;
● Develop and document best practices and case studies on science policy engagement to demonstrate how rigorous planetary health research can be utilized for policy application.
The Alliance, funded by three-year grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, is based at the Harvard University Center of the Environment in partnership with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
What it means to be a member of the PHA
Members of the Alliance contribute to raising the profile of Planetary Health and building capacity within the field through participating in the Alliance programs mentioned above. Institutional membership in the Alliance is open to all 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, government agencies, academic institutions and inter-governmental bodies whose mission relates to environment and health, who support the mission and values of the Alliance, and who seek to engage in planetary health research, education, and/or policy translation. Membership is not binding and does not require any financial commitments. Before joining the Alliance, we ask institutions to fill out a form to indicate interest in becoming a member of the Planetary Health Alliance. We then connect with each institution to brainstorm together about the specific domains (i.e., education, research, policy) and activities therein that we mutually agree would make ideal areas for collaboration. After this initial brainstorm and acknowledgement via email of mutual interest in collaboration, institutions officially become a member of the Alliance by sending a high resolution image of their logo that is proudly broadcast on the PHA website.