Special Issue "The Emerging Concept of Planetary Health: Connecting People, Place, Purpose and Planet"

A special issue of Challenges (ISSN 2078-1547).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 December 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Susan Prescott

Founding Director of the inVIVO Planetary Health; Director of The ORIGINS Project, Telethon Kids Institute; Founding President, DOHaD (Development Origins of Health and Disease) Society of Australia and New Zealand; Professor of Paediatrics, School of Medicine at University of Western Australia; Paediatric Immunologist, Perth Children's Hospital
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Interests: planetary health; ecological and social justice; immunology and inflammation; microbiome science; NCDs (non-communicable diseases); nutrition; life-course wellness and ‘DOHaD’ (development origins of health and disease); integrative approaches to wellness and disease prevention
Guest Editor
Dr. Alan C. Logan

inVIVO Planetary Health, Research, Group of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN)
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Interests: planetary health; natural environments; nature relatedness; mind–body medicine; nutrition; social and ecological justice; placebo; microbiota; history of medicine; philosophy of biology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The emerging concept of planetary health emphasizes that human health is intricately connected to the health of natural systems within the Earth’s biosphere—and that the health of all species depends on the health, biodiversity and stability of whole systems. Planetary health is a product of human social, political and economic ‘ecosystems’.

The global challenges facing humanity include climate change, biodiversity losses, population growth, grotesque socioeconomic inequalties, environmental degradation, health disparities, the dominance of ultra-processed foods, and the pandemic crisis of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). In addition, there is ongoing political polarization and conflict, and growing ‘dis-ease’ which compromises quality of life and sets individuals on a path to NCDs. These concerns are all interrelated; health at all levels—person, place and planet—is interdependent.

This Special Issue focuses on understanding and improving the complex relationships between human health and planetary health, including how the eco-biological interactions in our living environments (including food systems, climate change and biodiversity and microbial ecology) impact well-being, together with the wider societal factors that govern these. They require a greater understanding of our psychological relationships with the Earth and its natural systems. Lack of experience in nature and emotional disconnection from the natural environment, especially in children, may undermine the goals of planetary health.

The dramatic increasing burden of human disease can be seen as the culmination of a ‘dual burden’—increasing adverse exposures (e.g. fast food, toxins and stress) coupled with loss of much that was protective in ancestral environments. The facets of ‘loss’ extend from the physical (loss of biodiversity, species, local foods and produce) to the loss of community (loss of language, tradition, and stories) and the far less tangible aspects of loss (such as loss of value systems, loss of purpose, peace, respect, spirituality, compassion, hope and optimism). This suggests that the solutions must lie in restoring protective and buffering factors, minimizing adversity and inequality, and addressing the underlying systemic causes.

We invite submissions that consider aspects of these complex systems as they pertain to the broader context of planetary health, including unique perspectives, potential solutions, new proposals for collaboration, strategies for advocacy, public education, policy proposals, models for systemic change, community case studies, novel application or integration of technologies.

Prof. Dr. Susan Prescott
Dr. Alan C. Logan
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Challenges is an international peer-reviewed open access biannual journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Planetary health,
  • Ecology, biodiversity, ecosystems
  • Social and ecological justice
  • Microbial ecosystems, microbial diversity, disease associations
  • Environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, climate change
  • Urban landscapes, natural environments, nature-relatedness,
  • Inflammation and non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
  • Mental health, emotions and wellbeing, solastalgia, ecological grief
  • Food systems, nutrition, food processing and nutritional ecology
  • Lifestyle and the exposome
  • Life-course (developmental origins), transgenerational perspectives, epigenetics
  • Traditional cultures, belief systems, spirituality and value systems
  • Systems biology, dynamic data clouds, data systems required to characterize and understand biological complexity

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Open AccessArticle Tracking Trends in Emissions of Developmental Toxicants and Potential Associations with Congenital Heart Disease in Alberta, Canada
Challenges 2018, 9(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe9020028
Received: 28 May 2018 / Revised: 8 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 12 July 2018
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Abstract
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a serious anomaly for which the etiology remains elusive. We explored temporal trend associations between industrial developmental toxicant (DT) air emissions and CHD in Alberta. Patients born between 2004–2011 with a diagnosis of CHD and 18 DTs from
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Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a serious anomaly for which the etiology remains elusive. We explored temporal trend associations between industrial developmental toxicant (DT) air emissions and CHD in Alberta. Patients born between 2004–2011 with a diagnosis of CHD and 18 DTs from the National Pollutant Release Inventory (2003–2010) were identified. We applied principal component analysis (PCA) to DT amounts and toxicity risk scores (RS) and defined yearly crude CHD and septal defects rates for urban and rural regions. Correlations between DT groups and CHD rates were examined with Spearman test and Bonferroni correction was conducted for multiple comparisons. PCA identified three DT groups: Group 1 (volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other gases,) Group 2 (other VOCs), and Group 3 (mainly heavy metals). Province-wide, we found associations between Group 1 DTs and CHD and septal defect rates, when using amounts (r = 0.86, CI 0.39, 0.97 and r = 0.89, CI 0.48, 0.98, respectively) and RS (r = 0.88, CI 0.47, 0.98 and r = 0.85, CI 0.36, 0.97, respectively). Rural Group 2 DTs were positively associated with septal defect rates in both amounts released and RS (r = 0.91, CI 0.55, 0.98 and r = 0.91, CI 0.55, 0.98, respectively). In this exploratory study, we found a temporal decrease in emissions and CHD rates in rural regions and a potential positive association between CHD and septal defect rates and mixtures of organic compounds with or without gases. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Industrial Developmental Toxicants and Congenital Heart Disease in Urban and Rural Alberta, Canada
Challenges 2018, 9(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe9020026
Received: 17 May 2018 / Revised: 28 June 2018 / Accepted: 28 June 2018 / Published: 1 July 2018
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Abstract
The etiology of congenital heart defects (CHD) is not known for many affected patients. In the present study, we examined the association between industrial emissions and CHD in urban and rural Alberta. We acquired the emissions data reported in the Canadian National Pollutant
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The etiology of congenital heart defects (CHD) is not known for many affected patients. In the present study, we examined the association between industrial emissions and CHD in urban and rural Alberta. We acquired the emissions data reported in the Canadian National Pollutant Release Inventory (n = 18) and identified CHD patients born in Alberta from 2003–2010 (n = 2413). We identified three groups of emissions after principal component analysis: Groups 1, 2, and 3. The distribution of exposure to the postal codes with births was determined using an inverse distance weighted approach. Poisson or negative binomial regression models helped estimate associations (relative risk (RR), 95% Confidence Intervals (CI)) adjusted for socioeconomic status and two criteria pollutants: nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter with a mean aerodynamic diameter of ≤2.5 micrometers. The adjusted RR in urban settings was 1.8 (95% CI: 1.5, 2.3) for Group 1 and 1.4 (95% CI: 1.3, 1.6) for both Groups 2 and 3. In rural postal codes, Groups 1 and 3 emissions had a RR of 2.6 (95% CI: 1.03, 7). Associations were only observed in postal codes with the highest levels of emissions and maps demonstrated that regions with very high exposures were sparse. Full article
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Open AccessMeeting Report Seventh Annual Conference of inVIVO Planetary Health on Transforming Life: Unify Personal, Public, and Planetary Health
Challenges 2018, 9(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe9020036
Received: 21 July 2018 / Accepted: 30 July 2018 / Published: 24 August 2018
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Abstract
inVIVO Planetary Health is a progressive, humanist scientific movement promoting both evidence and advocacy around concepts of planetary health which denote the interdependence between human health and place at all scales. Our seventh annual conference was held in Canmore, Alberta 4-6th April
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inVIVO Planetary Health is a progressive, humanist scientific movement promoting both evidence and advocacy around concepts of planetary health which denote the interdependence between human health and place at all scales. Our seventh annual conference was held in Canmore, Alberta 4-6th April 2018, themed “Transforming Life: Unify Personal, Public, and Planetary Health” included diverse topics and perspectives to emphasise the interdependent vitality of all natural and anthropogenic ecosystems—social, political and otherwise. A key outcome of this meeting was the The Canmore Declaration: Statement of Principles for Planetary Health (published separately) which underscores that improving the health of all systems depends on: mutualistic values; planetary consciousness; advocacy; unity of purpose; recognition of biopsychosocial interdependence; emotional bonds between people and the land; efforts to counter elitism, social dominance and marginalization; meaningful cross-sectoral and cross-cultural narrative; self-awareness; and a personal commitment to shaping new normative attitudes and behaviors. Here we present the collection of abstracts of invited lectures and oral communications presented during the meeting. These formed the foundations and direction for discussions that became the basis of The Canmore Declaration. Full article
Open AccessConference Report The Canmore Declaration: Statement of Principles for Planetary Health
Challenges 2018, 9(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe9020031
Received: 26 June 2018 / Revised: 23 July 2018 / Accepted: 24 July 2018 / Published: 26 July 2018
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Abstract
The term planetary health—denoting the interdependence between human health and place at all scales—emerged from the environmental and preventive health movements of the 1970–80s; in 1980, Friends of the Earth expanded the World Health Organization definition of health, stating: “health is a
[...] Read more.
The term planetary health—denoting the interdependence between human health and place at all scales—emerged from the environmental and preventive health movements of the 1970–80s; in 1980, Friends of the Earth expanded the World Health Organization definition of health, stating: “health is a state of complete physical, mental, social and ecological well-being and not merely the absence of disease—personal health involvesplanetary health”. Planetary health is not a new discipline; it is an extension of a concept understood by our ancestors, and remains the vocation of multiple disciplines. Planetary health, inseparably bonded to human health, is formally defined by the inVIVO Planetary Health network as the interdependent vitality of all natural and anthropogenic ecosystems (social, political and otherwise). Here, we provide the historical background and philosophies that have guided the network, and summarize the major themes that emerged at the 7th inVIVO meeting in Canmore, Alberta, Canada. We also provide the Canmore Declaration, a Statement of Principles for Planetary Health. This consensus statement, framed by representative participants, expands upon the 1986 Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion and affirms the urgent need to consider the health of people, places and the planet as indistinguishable. Full article
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Open AccessViewpoint The Value of Global Indigenous Knowledge in Planetary Health
Challenges 2018, 9(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe9020030
Received: 10 July 2018 / Accepted: 19 July 2018 / Published: 26 July 2018
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Abstract
In order to fulfill a broader vision of health and wellness, the World Health Organization (WHO) 2014–2023 strategy for global health has outlined a culturally sensitive blending of conventional biomedicine with traditional forms of healing. At the same time, scientists working in various
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In order to fulfill a broader vision of health and wellness, the World Health Organization (WHO) 2014–2023 strategy for global health has outlined a culturally sensitive blending of conventional biomedicine with traditional forms of healing. At the same time, scientists working in various fields—from anthropology and ecology to biology and climatology—are validating and demonstrating the utility of Indigenous knowledge. There is a misperception that Indigenous peoples are in need of Westernized science in order to “legitimize” our knowledge systems. The Lancet Planetary Health Commission report calls for the “training of indigenous and other local community members” in order to “help protect health and biodiversity” (p. 2007). Such calls have merit but appear authoritarian when they sit (unbalanced) without equally loud calls for the training of (socially dominant) westernized in-groups by Indigenous groups “in order to help protect health and biodiversity.” The problems of planetary health are both profound and complex; solutions can be found in a greater understanding of the self and the universe and the land as a medicine place. The following message was delivered as part of a keynote at the inVIVO Planetary Health Conference in Canmore, Alberta, Canada—20 points of consideration for a planetary health science in its pure, raw form, on behalf of the Indigenous elders. Full article
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Open AccessCommentary Larger Than Life: Injecting Hope into the Planetary Health Paradigm
Challenges 2018, 9(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe9010013
Received: 14 February 2018 / Revised: 15 March 2018 / Accepted: 16 March 2018 / Published: 20 March 2018
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Abstract
The term planetary health, popularized in the 1980s and 1990s, was born out of necessity; although the term was used by many diverse groups, it was consistently used to underscore that human health is coupled to the health of natural systems within the
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The term planetary health, popularized in the 1980s and 1990s, was born out of necessity; although the term was used by many diverse groups, it was consistently used to underscore that human health is coupled to the health of natural systems within the Earth’s biosphere. The interrelated challenges of climate change, massive biodiversity losses, environmental degradation, grotesque socioeconomic inequalities, conflicts, and a crisis of non-communicable diseases are, mildly stated, daunting. Despite ‘doomsday’ scenarios, there is plenty of room for hope and optimism in planetary health. All over planet Earth, humans are making efforts at the macro, meso and micro scales to promote the health of civilization with the ingredients of hope—agency and pathway thinking; we propose that planetary health requires a greater commitment to understanding hope at the personal and collective levels. Prioritizing hope as an asset in planetary health necessitates deeper knowledge and discourse concerning the barriers to hope and the ways in which hope and the utopian impulse are corrupted; in particular, it requires examining the ways in which hope is leveraged by advantaged groups and political actors to maintain the status quo, or even promote retrograde visions completely at odds with planetary health. Viewing the Earth as a superorganism, with humans as the collective ‘nervous system’, may help with an understanding of the ways in which experience and emotions lead to behavioral responses that may, or may not be, in the best interest of planetary health. We argue that the success of planetary health solutions is predicated on a more sophisticated understanding of the psychology of prevention and intervention at all scales. Full article
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