The Canmore Declaration
Statement of Planetary Health Principles—21st Century Agenda for Global Health
1. The sustainable vitality of all systems: Planetary health, inseparably bonded to human health, is defined as the interdependent vitality of all natural and anthropogenic ecosystems; this vitality includes the biologically defined ecosystems (at micro, meso and macro scales) that favor biodiversity; it includes the more broadly defined human-constructed social, political, and economic ecosystems that favor health equity and the opportunity to strive for high-level wellness; this definition also includes the business ecosystems that influence sustainable and health-promoting local and global commerce.
2. Values and purpose: Attitudes, values and behaviors, and relationships sit at the heart of reaching planetary health goals; that is, human vitality (wellness) depends intimately on planetary vitality that in turn depends on humankind, on human kindness, empathy, mutualism, responsibility, and reciprocity at the individual, community, societal and global levels; thus, achieving planetary health must be a product of the interconnected systems of life and the approach to living (lifestyle)—the bios and biosis, respectively.
3. Integration and unity: Planetary health is rooted in ancestral concepts of the unity of life; the complexity of the challenges we face demands integrationist approaches; responsibility for planetary health requires us to relinquish conventional professional, societal, and cultural partitions and to develop contextual coalitions based both on science and broader cultural narratives.
4. Narrative health: Promoting awareness and discourse toward solutions (including those emerging from science) demands a narrative-based process that includes traditional knowledge and sciences and an understanding of the power of language; in healthcare, this underscores a role for researchers, clinicians, public health physicians and health promotion professionals in engaging patients and the community-at-large (and their influencers, policy makers and political representatives) to underscore the importance of the earth’s natural systems and biodiversity to human health and well-being.
5. Planetary consciousness: Planetary health requires commitment to self-awareness, cultural competency, and critical consciousness; to reduce the ways in which social, economic and political systems oppress groups and communities in different (and unequal) ways; to challenge contextual power hierarchies that block health equity; and to correct sources of misinformation that stand in the way of well-established personal, public and planetary health practices
6. Nature relatedness: We should educate on the importance of emotional connections to the land, to nature and its biodiversity; consider the psychological asset of nature-relatedness in clinical settings and beyond; encourage further research directed at understanding how mental and emotional relationships with place and planet are developed, and the biopsychosocial implications of experience (or lack, thereof) with nature.
7. Biopsychosocial interdependence: In the context of personalized/precision medicine, where possible we should promote understanding of our dependence on the natural environment around us (flora, fauna and our physical world) and intimately part of us (the human microbiome); use opportunities to illustrate and educate on how physiology (in health and disease) and dysbiosis (as a measurable microbial construct, and a metaphor from its Latin roots ‘life in distress’) can be linked through ecosystems operating from the micro to macro scales (e.g., misuse of antimicrobials, low-grade inflammation and/or the microbiome).
8. Advocacy: We should advocate for greater inclusion of the planetary health perspective in the training of all healthcare professionals; advocate for early-life education in sciences that 1) illustrate the interconnectivity of human life with the Earth’s biodiversity and its natural systems; and 2) illustrate how individual wellness is predicated on our way of living with other humans, and other forms of life. Such discourse should be encouraged and included in the education of caring and teaching professionals (and widely throughout society), such that individuals will strive to lead by example, to reduce primacy and encourage unity.
9. Countering elitism, social dominance and marginalization: Planetary health requires greater awareness of the impact of authoritarianism, and strong advocacy against collective narcissism, hubris, and social dominance orientation, factors that otherwise reduce empathy, marginalize out-group voices and impede the World Health Organization’s stated goals for global health promotion; research across all domains should occur with meaningful community engagement and partnerships that carefully consider the motivation and the beneficiaries of the research agenda.
10. Personal commitment to shaping new normative behaviors: We should strive to live by example: in clinical/academic/public settings and beyond we should endeavor to include the principles and practices of a planetary health lifestyle; in daily behavior, we should aim to be part of the solution, not the problem; remain committed to a planetary peace agenda; encourage mutualism, empathy and community cohesion; and underscore that aggression, conflict and violence are destructive to person, place and planet.
Read the full paper here
Challenges 2018, 9(2), 31; doi:10.3390/challe9020031
“Even with all our medical technologies, we cannot have well humans on a sick planet. Planetary health is essential for the well-being of every living creature. Future healthcare professionals must envisage their role within this larger context”
- Thomas Berry, 1992