Part 1: Introductory Concepts in Planetary Health

Chapters in This Section

In this first section, information will be presented that introduces the basic principles of Planetary Health and includes the following topics:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Planetary Health
  • Chapter 2: Introduction to One Health
    • What is One Health: Animal, Humans, and The Environment
    • What is the relationship to human health? (acute and chronic)
    • Animal models in Human Disease and Medical research
  • Chapter 3: Introduction to Eco-Health
    • What is ECO-Health
    • Core Values of the ECO-Health Approach
    • Nature as therapy – what is the importance of biophilia to human health
    • What is the relationship to human health? (acute and chronic)
  • Chapter 4: Introduction to Climate Change
    • Fundamentals of climate change
    • Direct and indirect impacts of climate change
    • Climate change mitigation and adaptation
    • Climate change and human health (acute and chronic impacts and physical, mental, and social implications)

What is Planetary Health?

In short, Planetary Health is described as the intersection between human civilization and the natural world. Planetary Health accepts that human health and the ability to achieve well-being in societies are fundamentally impacted by interactions between human civilization and the natural world. Moreover, Planetary Health recognizes that human activities in and upon the natural world dictate the status of human health both directly and indirectly.


What is the purpose of this text?

We are in a state of crisis with regard to the health of our planet and its constituents. We face tremendous urgency to act in ways that can change the trajectory of the outcomes associated with our actions. The purpose of this text is to provide a body of background knowledge about Planetary Health for medical students over the four years of their undergraduate medical education experience.

The Planetary Health Program represents a new approach to training medical learners, healthcare providers, and the public about issues that influence Planetary Health

The text will help to establish the essential information upon which the curriculum in Planetary Health can be based. In so doing, the text will recognize the solutions-focused transdisciplinary elements of Planetary Health so that the student is introduced to the multiple elements of Planetary Health from a cross-cutting perspective. By establishing this background information, we intend to provide a curriculum that focuses on essential knowledge based on theory and evidence from real-world Planetary Health issues. The program is informed by many sources and organizations, including but not limited to the Planetary Health Alliance along with the Association of Faculties of Medicine Canada, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), and the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS), all of whom have identified the need to incorporate greater awareness of Planetary Health into the medical school curriculum.

Individuals who complete the Planetary Health program will be better prepared to build strong collaborative networks with other health professionals and thereby make meaningful contributions to solving real-world challenges and promote policies that will lead to positive effects on Planetary Health and positive effects on human health. To this end, the Planetary Health program focuses on developing individuals with the competencies required to bridge gaps between health systems, health researchers, health practitioners, and decision/policymakers in a manner that breaks down silos and enables professionals to work toward common goals to reverse the negative effects of humans on Planetary Health and ultimately negative effects on themselves.

In December 2021, the Geneva Charter for Well-being was created at the 10th Global Conference on Health Promotion by some 5000 delegates representing 149 countries. The aim of this Charter was to bring attention to the multiple issues that challenge the planet and its constituents. The charter points out the essential changes that we as citizens of the planet must make to ensure a sustainable world in which current and future societies can achieve a state of positive well-being. The charter is important to enforce the point that there cannot be healthy humans without a healthy planet.

Most notably, the Geneva Charter identified 5 specific actions that can help us to achieve well-being societies “for all members of current and future generations to thrive on a healthy planet, no matter where they live.”

The Geneva Charter for Well-being

The five charter actions from the Geneva meeting for Well-Being (2021) are described in detail at: (The Geneva Charter for Well-being ( and should be shared. The five recommended actions are shown here:

  1. To value, respect and nurture planet earth and its ecosystems
  2. To design an equitable economy that serves human development within planetary and local ecological boundaries
  3. To develop health public policy for the common good
  4. To achieve universal health coverage
  5. To address the impacts of digital transformation

Taken together, these five recommendations are fundamental to an implementation science plan that can move us from a know-to-do approach that can help direct our societies to achieve well-being from a Planetary Health perspective. That is, to fundamentally change the interactions between human civilization and the natural world so that no society is disadvantaged by the activities of others and so that no society is ignored.


Principles of Planetary Health Copyright © 2022 by the authors. All Rights Reserved.

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