Planetary health experts from around the globe have issued a call to action charting a path forward to support a more equitable and resilient post-pandemic world.
The São Paulo Declaration on Planetary Health, published October 5, 2021 in The Lancet, was co-authored by Samuel Myers, principal research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Planetary Health Alliance. The Declaration’s recommendations were drafted during the 2021 Planetary Health Annual Meeting and Festival in São Paulo, Brazil, which was held in April. Signatories to the document included more than 250 organizations from 47 countries.
“Over the past several decades, the scale of human impacts on Earth’s natural systems has increased exponentially to the point where it exceeds our planet’s capacity to absorb our wastes or provide the resources we are using,” wrote Myers and his co-authors in the Declaration’s introduction. “The core insight of planetary health is that these disruptions and degradations of natural systems are a clear and urgent threat not only to the web of life but to humanity itself.”
The authors wrote that, to protect human health and all of life on Earth, “we will need to, and can, effect urgent, deep, structural changes in how we live.” These changes—which the Declaration calls “The Great Transition”—must involve “a rapid shift in how we produce and consume food, energy, and manufactured goods; requires rethinking the way we design and live in the world’s cities; and insists we heal our relationship with nature and to each other.”
The Declaration offers a blueprint for how numerous sectors—including businesses, governments, the media, health practitioners, researchers and educators, spiritual leaders, artists, poets, writers, musicians, and more—can help boost planetary health. “Every person, in every place, from every calling, has a role to play in safeguarding the health of the planet and people for future generations,” the authors wrote.