Human activities are damaging Earth’s natural systems and the health of future generations

News
  • 2015•08•11     Kuala Lumpur

    New report from The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on Planetary Health calls for action to ensure future health and environmental sustainability, showing that solutions are within reach

    The Rockefeller Foundation and leading medical journal The Lancet have released a new report on planetary health called Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene Epoch. The report demonstrates that human activity has pushed to near breaking point the natural systems that support and sustain human health. It also gives us direction how we can protect the health of future generations by taking action to preserve our natural resources and ecological systems.

    The reports is being launched in several places across the world, with the southeast Asian launch here in Kuala Lumpur last Thursday by United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH).  UNU-IIGH Director Professor Anthony Capon is one of the 15 Commissioners from eight countries who wrote the report under the leadership of Professor Sir Andy Haines from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

    “The environment and human health are linked in many ways. Without a committed focus on planetary health we will run into serious global health problems – from nutrition and agriculture to infectious disease and pollution. The report and an infographic show how we can protect and strengthen the essential foundations for future health,” says United Nations University’s Professor Anthony Capon.

    “The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Planetary Health Commission alerts us: human action is weakening the resilience of the earth’s natural systems, and in so doing is also weakening our resilience, along with our health and, in truth, our future,” said Dr Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. “We are in a symbiotic relationship with our planet, and we must start to value that in very real ways. The Commission’s report marks a paradigm shift for a new era of global public health, one that must be integrated with broader policy decisions.”

    The Commission warns that a rising population, unsustainable consumption and the over-use of natural resources will exacerbate these health challenges in the future. The world’s poorest communities will be among those at greatest risk, as they live in areas that are most strongly affected and have greater sensitivity to disease and poor health.

    “We are on the verge of triggering irreversible, global effects, ranging from ocean acidification to biodiversity loss,” says Professor Sir Andy Haines from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “These environmental changes – which include, but extend far beyond climate change – threaten the gains in health that have been achieved over recent decades and increase the risks to health arising from major challenges as diverse as under-nutrition and food insecurity, freshwater shortages, emerging infectious diseases, and extreme weather events.”

    Solutions to these clear and potent dangers are within reach, say the Commission authors, but the world needs to take decisive, coordinated action to protect the environment and secure the health of future generations.

    The appeal and relevance of the report to broader society was reflected by broad range of the 80 participants at the launch. They ranged from civil society, academia, government and young people, men and women alike.

    Photo: UNU-IIGH Back L-R : Ms Uta Dietrich, Mr Asfaazam Kasbani, Dr Graham Harrison, Prof Anthony Capon, Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid, Prof Dato' Dr Mazlin Mokhtar, Prof Waleska Caiaffa Front L-R: students: Isabelle Breen, Yann Ran Ng, Imran Suhaimie, Jessabelle Breen, Valerie Tan, Lucas Kim, Ina Hobson, Michael Gilmour

    Photo: UNU-IIGH
    Back L-R : Ms Uta Dietrich, Mr Asfaazam Kasbani, Dr Graham Harrison, Prof Anthony Capon, Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid, Prof Dato’ Dr Mazlin Mokhtar, Prof Waleska Caiaffa
    Front L-R: students: Isabelle Breen, Yann Ran Ng, Imran Suhaimie, Jessabelle Breen, Valerie Tan, Lucas Kim, Ina Hobson, Michael Gilmour

    Speakers at the event were:

    1) Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid (Science Advisor to the PM of Malaysia, Founding Chair – Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES))

    2) Prof Anthony Capon (Director, UNU International Institute for Global Health)

    3) Dr Graham Harrison (WHO Representative)

    4) Mr Asfaazam Kasbani (UNDP Assistant Resident Representative)