Strategies and Solutions for a Sustainable Society: Unveiling Opportunities for Planetary Health Research in Southeast Asia in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals

Meeting Organizer

Mahidol University

Global Health Asia Institute

Contact Person : Nicole de Paula,

30 January 2018
14:00 - 17:30 hrs.

Open to All Participants


Unprecedented human impact and transformation of Earth’s natural system have become a pressing global threat. This event proposes to rethink public health policies in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the lenses of a cross-sectoral approach: planetary health. Simply put, planetary health is about reminding ourselves that we are not separate entities from nature. It can be defined as a new scientific paradigm showing that our health is directly dependent on the proper functioning and diversity of the biosphere. It recalls that our planet has safe operating boundaries that, if breached, could disrupt our social-ecological systems and overall impair human resilience. In particular, the rise of new emerging infectious diseases exemplifies well some of the connections between degraded environments and the growing risks of global pandemics suggesting the urge for holistic management of these threats. Similarly, the SDGs, recently agreed under the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 can only effectively be implemented if public policies take into account cross-sectoral agendas. The rise of experts and initiatives working on planetary health, notably the establishment of the Planetary Health Alliance supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, demonstrates the relevance of further linking human health to the health of natural systems. Two main reasons justify the need for this event on the margins of PMAC 2018. First, planetary health relates to integrated zoonotic disease control and antimicrobial resistance, while building on the One Health knowledge and experience. Research has shown that there is growing evidence of the links between unplanned urbanization and land-use change in rural areas have been facilitating the jump of pathogens to wildlife, livestock and consequently to humans. Moreover, it courageously explores to what extent such notion has chances to trigger behavior and discursive changes in terms of regional cooperation on health and sustainable development. Second, it has the chance to reorient our methods and perceptions of public health policies, particularly linked to strategies to cope with global pandemics and sustainable food production. Without a transdisciplinary approach enabling cross-sectorial actions, we risk to bypass relevant synergies in the fields of environment and public health that can improve not only infectious diseases policies but also regional and global security. Embracing an innovative perspective, this event expects to advance new insights for practitioners, policy makers and regular citizens that can enhance advocacy activities in Southeast Asia regarding the synergies between the environmental and health agendas. By scrutinizing the planetary health notion, the panel will share innovative ways that contributes with the implementation of the SDGs, a universal commitment. Organized by the Global Health Asia Institute, Mahidol University (Faculty of Public Health) with the support of: • CIRAD- French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development • Stockholm Environment Institute-Asia • Zoological Park Organization of Thailand • Harvard University-Planetary Health Alliance and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)


Convening key organizations and stakeholders at the regional level, this meeting will be a first attempt to create a platform to further introduce the “planetary health” agenda in Southeast Asia region, so far little explored. It will show the intrinsic connection between planetary health and social and environmental justice, emphasizing that a more critical perspective and preventive approach are needed when analyzing the distribution of the benefits of public health policies. By translating recent scientific knowledge to the policy world, it is expected to enable change and new partnerships that will empower not only policy makers but also regular citizens to become transformative agents. Currently, the synergies between health and environmental studies remain little explored in Southeast Asia. This event aims to unveil these connections in order to equip Thailand and Southeast Asia countries to design health public policies in a more effective and integrated manner. For that, selected panelists will identify solutions for emerging public health challenges that are connected to the health of natural systems. As a multi-sectoral endeavor, the event is a tool to improve the connections between science and policy communities in order to improve advocacy strategies in Southeast Asia. Concretely, three overarching goals will guide the panel: a) Define the main characteristics and themes for establishing a “planetary health club” in Thailand, a group study dedicated to bridge the gaps between science and policy when merging the health and environmental agendas through existing case studies and research; b) Identify research gaps in the field of planetary health studies that deserve to be further explored particularly in Southeast Asia. c) Share policy oriented recommendations from ongoing research projects of selected institutions. Check the agenda and register on our website!