Year in Review | 2023

Planetary Health on the Global Stage

2023 saw growth and impact across all dimensions of the Planetary Health Alliance from membership to advances in policy. This work is often led by and amplified through our partners and members. We are grateful to have such a dynamic, strong, and growing community of practice.

The seeds of change planted in 2023 will be realized throughout 2024 and beyond. The global Planetary Health community has come together since June 2023 across regions in four working groups developing the first “Planetary Health Roadmap” to be launched as the key outcome of April 2024’s Planetary Health Annual Meeting (PHAM). PHAM registrants are encouraged to participate in the review processes. The four priority areas addressed by the Roadmap are education, communications, business, and policy. PHA's work in these different areas is interwoven, thanks to this collaborative process. Secondly, a “Kuala Lumpur Call to Action on Planetary Health” will build on 2021’s São Paulo Declaration. Please contribute your thoughts in the PHAM2024 Discussion Group on LinkedIn. Both deliverables present considerable media and promotional opportunities, which we hope you will join and amplify!  

Looking Back, Zooming In

  • Planetary Health centers evidence, equity, and inclusion of diverse knowledge systems to act on the human-caused environmental changes driving the global burden of disease. The trans-disciplinary approach is necessary to ensure well-being for humans and all life on Earth for generations to come. 
  • Globally, multilateral reinforcement of the concept of Planetary Health proliferated throughout the year, and health and equity were finally centered in climate discussions as negotiators worked to put nature, people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of climate action. 
  • Health professionals and leaders worldwide demonstrated that they are poised to reshape policies and drive collective action for a healthier, more equitable future in the face of unprecedented crises. 2023 saw the drafting of new economic structures that can move us along the road to making "health for all" a reality.  See the Policy section for more info >
  • Working groups drafted the components of the first Planetary Health Roadmap, focused on Policy, Education, Communications, and Business, to be set in motion at the Planetary Health Annual Meeting in April 2024. 
  • The Planetary Health Alliance—now over 400 members from 70+ countries strong—has been actively supporting leaders in this important and urgent work. In 2023, the Planetary Health Alliance secretariat moved to a new home at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Center close to the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC. The move brings many new opportunities to realize our mission of catalyzing the global field of Planetary Health and mainstream its insights and frameworks into action and decision-making. This move is part of establishing a new Johns Hopkins Institute for Planetary Health (JHIPH), which will be the first cross-university Institute of its kind.  
2023 in Review

Momentum for transformational change

Planetary Health is gaining momentum thanks to the help of our members, partners, and greater global community who are expanding the understanding and awareness of the Earth crisis and the transformational changes needed to create a livable future for all.   
“Planetary Health” was used in over 49,000 news media articles in 2023. Those stories were then shared over 68,000 times on social media. The Planetary Health Alliance provided the foundational understanding of Planetary Health for over 630 media articles during the year, which specifically used PHA’s definition in their text. In 2023, 139 million social media accounts saw “Planetary Health” and #planetaryhealth, thanks to content created by 39,000 unique authors.

March 2023 was the biggest media month in history for the term “Planetary Health,” with over 7,000 mentions from around the world, fueled by the release of the UN’s IPCC report which plainly stated, “The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health (very high confidence).” – AR6, Section 3, page 89

PHA is shining light on the science, those affected, and those working for change through a social media content partnership with BBC Earth’s #OurPlanetEarth which promotes Planetary Health literacy. Stories, narratives and other media from trusted journalistic sources are strongly influential variables in public understanding and personal decision making on climate- and environment-related topics. 

Attuning ourselves to our “inner lives” enables creative expression and the will to affect transformation. PHA’s Constellation Project is fostering a community-driven exploration of spiritual connections and emotional relationships, recognizing their significance in addressing global challenges. By curating diverse narratives and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, it seeks to inspire a shift towards a more ethical and interconnected worldview, ultimately promoting positive change through storytelling and creative engagement. The Project was reinvigorated in 2023 with monthly community calls, new statements of purpose, and a revamped web presence.

MORE IN 2024 
In late 2024, expect to see a major makeover of PHA’s website that will revitalize the way Planetary Health is presented to the world. We launched this work in 2023 by developing a restructuring strategy to better organize and showcase materials. More than 70,000 users visited the PHA website in 2023 from 211 countries.
Planetary boundaries: The fifth and ninth most-featured climate science papers in the media in 2023 make it clear that it’s time to talk about more than climate. “Earth system modeling of different levels of the transgression of the climate and land system change boundaries illustrates that these anthropogenic impacts on Earth system must be considered in a systemic context.” – Earth beyond six of nine planetary boundaries

The world is hungry for more: Last year, among Planetary Health media articles, “food” was most frequently mentioned, more so than “climate change.”

2023 in Review

Visible calls for “educational efforts that protect the integrity of our planet and the health and well-being of our patients, our generation, and all future generations.” – World Medical Journal, 2023

No sooner had the year begun than The Lancet Planetary Health’s special issue on education, spearheaded by PHA leaders, called for transformative, inclusive, and integrative approaches for learning and relearning in the Anthropocene, spotlighting PHA’s Planetary Health Education Framework as a foundational element fueling the transformative potential of education. 

Another powerful call for change was announced in April, compelling over 100 universities and health organizations to sign on to adopt a Planetary Health lens in their education, research, policy, and advocacy. The “Academic Health Institutions’ Declaration on Planetary Health,” developed and launched with PHA and led by all of Canada’s faculties of medicine, establishes accountability on collaboration that de-silos work, leading to the implementation of solutions. The declaration outlines a plan to support the implementation of Planetary Health education and research. An invited comment in The Lancet, “Seeding a planetary health education revolution: institutional sign-on challenge”, co-authored by several PHA leaders, brought renewed attention to this declaration just ahead of COP28. And at the tail end of the year, the World Federation of Public Health Associations proudly endorsed this Declaration and posted the challenge throughout their media channels.

The Earth Day release of the Planetary Health Report Card also crucially bolstered accountability in education as healthcare students demand action on the most pressing challenges in health by identifying learning gaps and opportunities to improve curricula. PHA’s Planetary Health Education Framework is a key resource available to guide curriculum development, while the Planetary Health Expand project is actively working with collaborators to integrate Planetary Health into medical, nursing, and public health curricula.  

In October Sam Myers co-authored a call to action in the World Medical Journal (page 22), urging health practitioners and advocates to use their voices to make a difference locally and globally by evaluating the state of Planetary Health education, inquiring about patients’ environmental health risks in clinical practice, sharing Planetary Health knowledge in daily conversation with friends and colleagues, asking health institutions about their Planetary Health-related activities, and joining Planetary Health action groups.

Studying the studies: 3,000 people have downloaded PHA case studies and teaching guides. Check out the new clinical case studies from our colleagues at Medicine for a Changing Planet, released in 2023.

MORE IN 2024 
Look forward to a brand-new inventory of Planetary Health education: PHA’s landscape analysis of current higher education efforts catalogued over 50 institutions across 20 countries offering some form of Planetary Health instruction. These include undergraduate and graduate programs, online certificate courses, summer schools, and postgraduate and graduate certificates.

2023 in Review

Presence and uptake in intergovernmental political and economic fora 

Planetary Health policy is flourishing and being discovered across all levels of decision making from municipal to multi-lateral arenas. 
PHA began its 2023 policy work by co-authoring a UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) Reflection Article published in The Lancet: "Health in global biodiversity governance: what is next?"  

In April Sam Myers was honored to address a session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) with the theme: “Indigenous Peoples, human health, planetary and territorial health and climate change: a rights-based approach.” PHA released a Policy Note to elevate the views expressed by Indigenous leaders at UNPFII and to highlight the alignment of Planetary Health with Indigenous Peoples’ concepts of health. 

PHA staff and direct representatives participated in several UN-level events including intergovernmental meetings for the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in New York City; the World Health Assembly in Geneva; the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change intersessional and preparatory meeting in Bonn, Germany; and COP28.

In the first time in the history of the global climate negotiations, health was officially on the agenda of COP28. Tens of millions of health professionals were represented by the COP28 Health Letter and the World Health Organization’s call to action. Health ministers and governments delivered the first Climate and Health Declaration. PHA used its convening power to connect those attending COP28 in Dubai, and together with the Sunway Centre for Planetary Health, Global Commons Alliance, and the Earth Commission hosted a special session at the Malaysia Pavilion on “Planetary Health as a framework to desilo and wire our world for wellbeing.” The dialogue outlined the health implications of transgressing Safe and Just boundaries, discussed how decisionmakers can connect best available social and ecological science to accelerate effective health and climate policy making, and provided inspiration on how to drive policy transformations to the benefit of Planetary Health. 

PHA representatives engaged with other intergovernmental political and economic forums including events facing the G7 and discussions on Planetary Health policy interventions at the C20, which is an official pathway informing the G20 meetings. In July, the G20 Environment and Climate Ministers put forward key elements of Planetary Health in their outcome document by formally recognizing and committing to elements encompassing equitable representation in decision-making processes, the significance of Indigenous Knowledge, the preservation of biological diversity, the recognition of pollution's adverse effects on human health, and the imperative of taking action on climate change along with addressing its associated financial requirements.

In May the World Health Organization’s Council on the Economics of Health for All dropped a landmark report that charts the course for reorienting economies, "Health for All: Transforming economies to deliver what matters.” Planetary Health is, plain and simple, Recommendation #3 of this bold new narrative grounded in a new economic paradigm. This is the narrative - embedding the Planetary Health framework into future economic models – that will be squarely on the agenda of 2024’s Summit of the Future. Planetary Health guides the development of the kind of world that we want to live in.

“In our final report, we call for new economic policy that is not about market fixing but about proactively and collaboratively shaping markets that prioritize human and planetary health.” - Mariana Mazzucato, Chair, World Health Organization’s Council on the Economics of Health for All
The year ended on a high note from Japan, where its national Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Promotion Headquarters, headed by the Prime Minister and consisting of all Ministers, announced on December 22: "In promoting [SDG] efforts, it is important to consider the concept of 'Planetary Health,' which acknowledges the interplay between climate change, biodiversity, and health, and to pay close attention to the interconnections among individual global challenges." 

MORE IN 2024 
The Academy of Sciences Malaysia with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is developing an integrated National Planetary Health Action Plan. The Action Plan aims to mainstream Planetary Health in all national policies and plans, through a whole-of-nation approach, to address ecosystems, biodiversity, health, and climate change for sustainable development. It is slated to be published in 2024.

2023 in Review

A growing repository of articles - and of ongoing research needs

Planetary Health innovation is supported by the rigorous generation and dissemination of scientific evidence about the connections between human well-being and the state of our natural systems. We are committed to supporting the growth of that knowledge, curating and synthesizing it for our community and disseminating it to policymakers, movement builders, the private sector, and the general public.
In 2023, PHA shared over 100 new research articles, adding to an online repository of over 1,600 significant contributions to the knowledge base.

In March, more than 100 specific knowledge gaps were identified in the field of Planetary Health by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Priority areas emerged around the effects of global environmental change on human health; guidance and support for the transformative changes necessary to avert global environmental change; methods for individual and collective behavior change and governance in relation to global environmental change; and guidance and support for mitigation and adaptation strategies for the healthcare sector.

MORE IN 2024 
Dialogues and analysis conducted in the latter half of 2023 for the Connecting Climate Minds project will soon culminate in the release of the research and action agenda for the critical nexus of climate change and mental health.

Focused and centered: Through PHA’s information gathering, we know that globally, there are more than 20 university-level centers fully focused on Planetary Health, including the University of Minnesota Center in Planetary Health and Environmental Justice and the Johns Hopkins Institute for Planetary Health, both of which launched in 2023. As far as we are aware, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Planetary Health is the first example of a fully cross-university organization designed to build community across the entire university with programs in research, education, policy, practice, and clinical dimensions of Planetary Health. 

Growing, together: In February Carlos Faerron and others provided often-requested clarification between the complementary fields of One Health and Planetary Health in a Lancet Planetary Health article.

We rely on the community to keep us informed of new developments; when something pops up,

2023 in Review

A thriving alliance of 405 organizations across 70 countries 

PHA is an organization in service of its global membership, and we benefit greatly from the advice and support given by our members to advance Planetary Health awareness, knowledge, and action. 
Last year PHA gained 47 new organizational members and added 875 new individual members to the community.

​Organizational membership is represented by: 
  • Non-governmental organizations: 56%
  • Universities and academic institutions: 35% 
  • Research institutes: 7% 
  • Government entities: 2%
Of the 70 countries represented in organizational membership, 64% are LMICs.​​

PHA hosted multiple calls and convenings in 2023 for members to network with each other and learn about PHA initiatives and opportunities. Individual members enroll, contact each other, and promote activities through the Hylo engagement platform and stay informed through the monthly newsletter and social media.

Fun Fact: PHA increased its social media following by well over 4,000 in 2023 and, during the course of the year, shared nearly 300 events, opportunities, and research articles to a growing mailing list of over 20,000.

2023 in Review

Greater reach through global partnerships for action

Community building is at the core of creating change and laying the groundwork for The Great Transition, a comprehensive shift in how human beings interact with each other and Nature. We acknowledge the monumental effort that our global community contributes to Planetary Health outreach and action, which cannot be fully captured here, but is greatly appreciated.
The participation of PHA staff and members in international forums and working groups, at global conferences, NGO panel discussions, and in cross-sectorial dialogues plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about the significance of Planetary Health. The uptake of Planetary Health Declarations and Pledges and the invited role of Planetary Health speakers in significant events continues to grow and shift conversations and action to collaborative efforts for systemic change and a livable future.

In 2023 PHA had extensive reach through professional convenings including opening keynotes/plenaries for thousands of medical, public health, and global health professionals, researchers, policymakers, and students at the World Congress on Public Health in Rome and at the Congrès de la Médecine Générale in Paris, a gathering attended by leaders in primary care and general medical practice. A workshop for the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute marked the National Institutes of Health’s first-ever dialogue on Planetary Health.

Other PHA staff and leaders took to the stages and microphones for over 30 different events.

One of PHA’s first agenda items at Johns Hopkins University was to hold an important symposium with the Center for Indigenous Health in November. “Protecting Our Planet, Protecting Our Children: An Indigenous Vision for Intergenerational Health” was held in Washington, DC and online, featuring various aspects of health that impact Indigenous communities, with a focus on the interdependence of our children, families, and our planet’s natural systems. We look forward to many more gatherings in 2024 and have enjoyed meeting with office visitors regularly. Please stop by if you are in Washington, DC!

In good company: In November approximately 1,500 global health practitioners, researchers, and policy makers convened around the European Congress on Global Health's theme “Planetary Health: shaping the future of equitable and sustainable global health,” an event co-hosted by the Planetary Health European Hub. At least 10 major, multi-day events around the world (such as professional conferences) explicitly included Planetary Health in their stated themes for 2023. 

Fun Fact: On average, PHA secretariat staff were guest speakers for at least two public events each month in 2023.

The Planetary Health Regional Hubs have been spearheading impactful initiatives, from hosting groundbreaking inaugural conferences like the Latin America Planetary Health Conference and the European Planetary Health Congress, to launching an education toolbox in East Africa. Their efforts have been pivotal in catalyzing cross-sectoral collaboration and driving forward the Planetary Health agenda, as evidenced by achievements like the Brazilian Policy Brief for the Lancet Countdown on Climate Change and Health, a successful side event at the International Conference on Public Health in Africa, and the unveiling of the "Hiroshima Planetary Health Declaration 2023" in Japan.

In 2023 PHA stepped up to address the critically emerging needs at the nexus of climate change and mental health by embarking as the Regional Convener for North America and Europe for the global Connecting Climate Minds project. Dialogues hosted by PHA gathered over 70 experts from 13 countries and solicited case studies and lived experience stories that are informing the world’s most comprehensive research and action agenda and community of practice on this subject, to be launched in early 2024.

PHA’s Next Generation Network for youth saw tremendous growth in 2023, aided by new connections to Planetary Health Regional Hubs and the largest-ever cohort of Planetary Health Campus Ambassadors - 123 from 31 countries. The PHCA program is a competitively awarded leadership opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students committed to educating their campus community about Planetary Health.

Whether drafting policy briefings on climate resilient systems in the United Arab Emirates or designing academic electives on Planetary Health at the University of Pavia, the 2023 PHCAs’ enthusiasm and creativity have garnered widespread appreciation in the Planetary Health community (learn more about their work).

“PHA represents youth, but it also involves and gives voice to youth beyond nominally” 
- this remark of appreciation was expressed in October by Cindy Xie, an MIT-based Planetary Health Campus Ambassador (PHCA) and PHA Constellation Project intern.
Clinicians worldwide came together to advance Planetary Health initiatives in 2023, propelling information-sharing and fostering global connections through innovative programs and resources. Clinicians for Planetary Health (C4PH) forged connections among Planetary Health actors in the Global South and the Global North during an August event building the Planetary Health community in Africa and beyond, organized with the African Community of Planetary Partners for Health and Environment.

The leadership on Planetary Health from nursing is awe-inspiring, and nurses are well-positioned to make a large impact in mainstreaming as trusted messengers. There is an ever-increasing body of tools, resources and action plans for nurses, such as the Nursing Toolkit for Planetary Health created by Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment in mid-2023 and a Call to Action in Nursing led by the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. Launched in 2023 by Steering Committee member Teddie Potter, Nurses for Planetary Health (N4PH) is a new movement to connect nurses to the Planetary Health field and social movement and to PHA Regional Hubs and programs around the world. In alignment with the aims of PHA’s ongoing Planetary Health Expand initiative, N4PH teaches nurses to apply the Planetary Health Education Framework and the São Paulo Declaration for Planetary Health in nursing research, education, advocacy/policy, and practice.

Planetary Health Alliance

The Planetary Health Alliance is a consortium of over 340 universities, government entities, research institutes, and other partners around the world committed to understanding and addressing global environmental change and its health impacts.
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