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Planetary Health

Safeguarding both human health and the natural systems that underpin it


Today, we live longer and more prosperous lives than ever before. The unparalleled public health, agricultural, industrial, and technical advancements of the 20th century created the conditions for better health for billions of people.

Yet this tremendous socio-economic progress is taking a heavy toll on the Earth’s natural systems. Our patterns of highly inequitable, inefficient, and unsustainable resource consumption, together with population growth, are degrading nature in ways that are actually undermining our well-being.

There is growing evidence that the planet’s capacity to sustain the growing human population is declining. The degradation of our air, water, and land, combined with significant loss in biodiversity, have resulted in substantial health impacts, incuding:

  • Reduction of food security and nutrition;
  • Loss of freshwater resources;
  • Higher exposure to communicable disease and increase of non-communicable disease; and
  • Increased loss of life and well-being by extreme weather events.

It is time for a new approach.

Our Strategy

Planetary Health is rooted in understanding the interdependencies of human and natural systems.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s investments in Planetary Health are dedicated to the new multi-disciplinary field, and finding solutions to health risks posed by our poor stewardship of our planet. Through advocacy, partnership, and awareness raising, the Planetary Health Initiative seeks to influence both international and national approaches to health. Additionally, we hope to create policy change that better balances human advancement with environmental and biodiversity sustainability.


Planetary Health Infographic - 2

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The Commission

As a first step in exploring the scientific basis for creating this new field of study and action—and to make recommendations on policies—The Rockefeller Foundation and the medical journal The Lancet formed The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health. In July 2015, the commission published a special report—Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene Epoch—which explored the scientific basis for creating Planetary Health as a new field. Chaired by Professor Sir Andy Haines, the Commission included leading researchers and policy makers from academic, government, multilateral, and civil society institutions across eight countries.

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