The Planetary Health Alliance is a consortium of universities, NGOs, and other partners committed to advancing planetary health — an interdisciplinary field focused on characterizing the human health impacts of human-caused disruptions of Earth’s natural systems. Researchers, scholars and leaders from around the world will convene at Stanford University to focus on solutions. Here is a selection of speakers. Click on their photos to learn more.
Forestry manager and socio-environmental entrepreneur
Tasso Azevedo founded the Brazilian non-governmental organization Imaflora in 1995 to create alternatives to deforestation. It became the leading environmental certification institution in Brazil. In 2003 he was appointed as the first director general of Brazil’s National Forest Service.
In that job, by showing how the health of the Amazon rainforest is directly connected to his country’s economic stability and energy security, he led the implementation of an innovative framework of incentives for sustainable forestry that contributed to reduce the ate of deforestation in the Amazon by 75 percent — and Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions by one-third. Today, Azevedo is focused on addressing climate change globally.
He will be speaking in the plenary session Fire: Wildfires, Deforestation, and Planetary Health, Friday, September 6 at 2:05.
Professor of Climate Change and Mental Health
Helen Berry is a widely-cited psychiatric epidemiologist and expert in how climate change, disasters and social and physical place influence mental health and wellbeing. She advises on national and international research programs and is currently collaborating with the Lancet Countdown and the MJA-Lancet Countdown, to develop indicators of mental health. She developed multiple widely-used population screening measures including the Australian Community Participation Questionnaire and the Brief Weather Disaster Trauma Exposure and Impact Screen.
Dr. Berry’s research career builds on a 12-year career in federal and state public policy and on 13 years of voluntary executive leadership service in the relationships services sector. Helen holds an honorary appointment at the University of Melbourne and is a Director of Altitude Consulting Pty Ltd, a hi-tech management, business and research consulting company.
She will speaking Thursday, September 5 at 9:50 in the Conversation on Mental Health Impacts of Climate Change.
Head of Our Planet, Our Health
Howard Frunkim leads the “Our Planet, Our Health” (OPOH) program at the Wellcome Trust in London. Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive, and the OPOH program aims to propel research, and to translate research into action, in three domains of Planetary Health: climate change, food systems, and cities.
Before joining Wellcome, Frumkin was Dean and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health, Director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Professor and Chair of Environmental Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.
He will be speaking Friday, September 6 at 4p in the plenary session, NCDs and Planetary Health: Common Challenges and Co-Beneficial Solutions.
Chief Development Strategist, Institute for the Environment
Christine Loh is a former Hong Kong Legislative Councillor, founder and CEO of Civic Exchange, founder of the Citizens Party, and founder of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor. From 2012 to 2017, she was Under Secretary for the Environment in the government of CY Leung.
Until her appointment as Undersecretary for the Environment, Loh was CEO of Civic Exchange, the Hong Kong think tank that she co-founded in 2000. She was named “Woman of the Year for 2006” by Hong Kong Business. She has worked in many areas, including law, business, politics, media and the non-profit sector, but is best known as a leading voice in public policy in Hong Kong, particularly in promoting democracy and environmental protection.
Author. Educator. Environmentalist.
Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.
The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”
A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books,National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.
Director, Planetary Health Alliance
Sam Myers works at the intersection of human health and global environmental change. He received his BA from Harvard College, his MD from Yale Medical School, performed his residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and received his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is a Principle Research Scientist, Planetary Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director of the Planetary Health Alliance.
For two years, Dr. Myers was the founding Field Manager of an integrated conservation and human health project in the Qomolangma Nature Preserve in Tibet. He then worked in the Global Health Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as an AAAS fellow where he designed a new mechanism for administering and studying projects that integrate human health, population growth, and environmental change in developing countries. After two years as an AAAS fellow, Dr. Myers was hired by Conservation International as a Senior Director to run the Healthy Communities Initiative, a $5 million project to design and implement integrated conservation and human health activities in biodiversity hotspot regions around the world.
After finishing a clinical research fellowship in General Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Myers began a research career focused on quantifying the human health impacts of large scale, anthropogenic environmental change. He is currently the principle investigator on four transdisciplinary research projects that include: 1) quantifying the impact of rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2 on the nutrient content of crops and the impacts of these changes on the distribution of deficiencies of micronutrients like iron and zinc for the national populations of 176 countries; 2) quantifying the importance of access to terrestrial and marine wildlife species as a source of macro and micronutrients in the diets of subsistence populations; 3) quantifying the human health impacts of landscape fires in SE Asia and developing new tools that allow fine-grained modeling of the specific morbidity and mortality for a particular population attributable to specific land use types and geographic locations; and 4) modeling the nutritional vulnerability of different populations around the world to loss of animal pollinators with respect to specific micronutrients. In addition, he is co-leading new research efforts focused on quantifying the nutritional importance of access to fisheries at both local (in Madagascar) and global scales. Dr. Myers is a Commissioner on the Rockefeller Foundation—Lancet Commission on Planetary Health and is the recipient of the Prince Albert II of Monaco—Institut Pasteur Award 2015 for “outstanding contributions to the field of global environmental and climatic changes and their impacts on human health.”
Dr. Myers will lead the Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday, September 4 at 1p and the plenary session on Mobilizing a Planetary Health Movement on Thursday, September 5 at 2:10p.
The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health
Vikram Patel is a professor of global health and social medicine and psychiatrist whose work over the past two decades has focused on reducing the treatment gap for mental disorders in low resource countries. His work has addressed four major themes: generating policy relevant evidence on the burden and impact of mental disorders; developing and evaluating mental health interventions for delivery by non-specialist and lay health workers; developing training programs to build research capacity and leadership in global mental health; and communicating research to diverse audiences to act on this evidence.
Fred H. Bixby, Jr. Endowed Chair in Population and Family Planning
Ndola Prata is a public health physician and medical demographer from Angola. She began her career practicing medicine in Angola and served as Head of the Social Statistics Department at the National Institute of Statistics of Angola. Shortly after moving to the US, while beginning her tenure as a researcher and lecturer at UC Berkeley, she served as a Demographer/Analyst for CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health.
Prata is especially interested in family planning, abortion, reproductive health, women’s health and empowerment and maternal mortality. Her research focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of family planning and maternal health interventions that maximize distribution and financing mechanisms to increase access to contraceptives in developing countries, particularly for the underserved populations. Her projects investigate strategies for harnessing existing resources, including human capacity and health care infrastructure while also gathering evidence for setting priorities on national health agendas.
She will be speaking Friday, September 6 at 10:50 in the Breakout Session: Putting Women at the Forefront of Planetary Health Solutions.
Dayak leader, activist, environmentalist
Emmanuela Shinta is a Dayak leader, activist, environmentalist, filmmaker and writer with a reputation for leading and empowering young people.
Her work has been recognized widely in Asia Pacific, including being the icon of Asian Geographic issue 117 Planet Under Fire and featured in UNICEF Global White Paper Women Health & Climate 2017. With organization called Ranu Welum Foundation which she founded in 2016, she has trained more than 150 young indigenous people to be able to use camera to tell their causes. She has been speaking on behalf of her communities in regional and international forum about public misconception on Dayak people and bringing the stories from the ground up to global audience through short videos and documentaries. Her film entitled When Women Fight has been featured in various international festivals & forums. She is also an active minister in Christian outreach and ministry. She believes that her achievement is a gift from God so she can spread the good news and touch many lives through her platform.
She will be speaking Thursday, September 5 at 2:10 in the plenary session, Mobilizing a Planetary Health Movement.
Lead of the WHO/WMO Joint Climate and Health Office
Shumake-Guillermot’s work brings together the specialized agencies of the United Nations for health and climate to harness climate information and research to better understand and develop solutions to climate change impacts on health and society. She led the creation of the joint office in 2014, and the formulation of a new 2019-2023 Joint Inter-agency Programme of Work for health, environment, and climate. Priority actions of the office include policy and technical advisory, field testing innovations in tools and data-technologies, and catalyzing partnerships and dialogues to help multi-sectoral government, academic, and civil society partners to collaborate more effectively for climate action.
She will be speaking Friday, September 6 in the Breakout session: Compound Disaster Risks of Climate Change.
President, The Polynesian Voyaging Society
Nainoa Thompson is the president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and a Pwo navigator. Inspired by his kūpuna, his teachers, he has dedicated his life to exploring the deep meaning of voyaging. Among many other important mentors, Yoshio Kawano took him at an early age to tide pools to explore the mysteries of the inshore ocean; Herb Kāne introduced him to the stars his ancestors used to navigate great ocean distances; and Pwo navigator Mau Piailug taught him to see the natural signs he would use to guide Hōkūleʻa, a replica of an ancient Polynesian voyaging canoe, throughout Polynesia. Nainoa’s father taught him the universal values of voyaging – of having a vision of islands rising from the sea, of self-discipline, preparation, courage, risk-taking and the spirit of aloha that would bind a crew on arduous journeys.
He will be speaking Friday, September 6 at 5:30 in the keynote speech: The Land and the Waters Are Speaking: Indigenous Views on Climate Change.