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The Planet in Intensive Care!

14 August 2019

CAP was represented by Neil Blackshaw (retired RTPI member and specialist in health and planning) at the launch of A “Manifesto to secure a healthy planet for all” at the Overseas League in London on 31st July. The Manifesto was developed by the InterAction Council a group of former heads of government that addresses some of the most difficult global challenges.

The Manifesto to Secure a Healthy Planet for All – A Call for Emergency Action

The launch was attended by representatives of the Governments of Papua New Guinea , Belize , Barbados, Sri Lanka, Germany, Denmark Ireland and Wales as well as many Commonwealth organisations, all of whom expressed strong support.

​The Manifesto draws on some of the most recent published research on climate change and biodiversity loss to argue that were the planet to be assessed as a patient it would be considered to be in a critical state, demanding of urgent and radical intervention. It effectively places an obligation on actors at all levels to work towards a healthy and sustainable environment. The basic premise is the need to align thinking and action on health and the environment. It builds on the work published in the Lancet since 2015 under the general title of Planetary Health. It also reflects the long-standing social determinants of health model and the WHO definition of health as ‘more than the absence of disease’. As such this initiative has great relevance for planning and and offers a valuable opportunity to build a common agenda with the health sector.

It calls for the following broad actions.

Security– A Critical Care Response for the Planet’s Health: with the declaration of a Climate and Environmental Crisis and the urgent establishment of an Emergency Response mechanism to ensure the rapid reversal of carbon emissions, the stabilisation of risks from runaway climate change and the protection of vulnerable populations.

Recovery– Rehabilitation and Resilience: to enhance the recovery of the Planet’s Biodiversity and Eco-systems, creating healthy air, water, land and food systems, scaled up through Universal Health Systems for Planet, Place and People.

A Flourishing Planet for All: combat denial and eco-anxiety bypromoting sustainable wellbeing by maximising multiple health and environmental benefits, including healthy eco-systems, and multi-sector, systems based urban planning and ‘One Health for One Planet Education’ approaches across the life-course, to create connected communities and cyclical economies, for a flourishing Planet for all.

Guardianship for a Healthy Planet: every organisation and community to establish a ‘Guardian for the Planet’s Health’ responsible for:Planetary first aid, Emergency responses, Guardianship, Advocacy, Solutions, Unifying action and Sustaining a flourishing planet (PEGASUS); enabled by a Healthy Planet Index.

Collaborative – Community and Health Professional Action: everyone can become a community ‘Guardian for the Planet’s Health’to: protect and strengthen resilience by greening communities; reduce consumption and waste, recycle and use clean energy and transport; walk, cycle and communicate digitally and shift to healthy, planet friendly foods. Community members, including health professionals can lead by example with quality services and promote healthy green communities with resilient families.

Next steps

Following on from the launch the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health is establishing a hub to create a common resource to secure a healthy planet for all via a digital platform for Universal Health Systems for Planet, Place and People. This will be based at Southampton University, with a team of Commonwealth Digital Health Fellows. The Manifesto will be the subject of a side meeting at the forthcoming Climate Action Summit which is to be held in New York in September

CAP Response

CAP has endorsed the Manifesto in the above light. Speaking at the launch Neil Blackshaw outlined the work of CAO in influencing the sustainable development agenda He highlighted the critical importance of the process of urbanisation on health, climate change and the loss of biodiversity and the role of CAP in seeking to increase the capacity for planning throughout the Commonwealth. He also stressed the need for collaborative working with health organisations in meeting those challenges.

It is hoped that there will be opportunities to collaborate with the Centre for Digital Health in both raising awareness of the urgency of the situation and developing capacity and strategies for meeting the challenge. In the long run it is hoped that the Manifesto will stimulate and facilitate closer working between health and planning organisations across the Commonwealth. Member organisations are thus urged to look for opportunities to pursue the actions outlined in the Manifesto on a collaborative basis.

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