Humanity’s pursuit of economic development and civilization, while bringing notable improvements in areas such as human health, has come at the cost of degradation of the natural systems upon which these advancements depend.
To achieve planetary health–taking into account both the health of human civilization and the natural systems on which it depends–requires a shift in thinking to safeguard these natural systems. A new report by the Rockefeller Foundation — Lancet Commission on Planetary Health and the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) outlines how an integrated view of what prosperity means can safeguard the environment, foster equitable consumption and offer a better outlook for human well-being, thereby achieving planetary health. The report highlights several steps, including waste reduction through the creation of products that are more durable and require less energy and materials to manufacture; the incentivisation of recycling, reuse, and repair; and the substitution of hazardous materials with safer alternatives. According to the report, planetary health offers an opportunity for reform to taxes and subsidies for many sectors of the economy–including energy, agriculture, water, fisheries, and health–to account for natural capital so that economy and nature are not separated. The report also outlines the role of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals in the integration of health and sustainability. Media are invited to the East African launch of this report, which will be hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).