Tan Sri Dato’ Jeffrey Cheah, Foundation Chancellor of Sunway University and Professor Sibrandes Poppema, University President have announced the creation of the Sunway Centre for Planetary Health, and appointed senior Malaysian health and humanitarian expert, Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, to serve as Executive Director, and planetary health scholar-practitioner Dr. Renzo Guinto of the Philippines as its Chief Planetary Health Scientist.
The planetary health approach is an integrated way of improving our relationship with planet earth. It focuses on achieving the highest attainable standards of health, wellbeing, and equity worldwide, all within safe environmental limits.
It requires a stronger focus on how our political, economic, and social systems must change in order to better protect us and the earth’s natural systems in order that both can thrive. In short, planetary health is the health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends. This powerful concept emphasises that in order to advance humanity’s wellbeing, the declining state of planet Earth can no longer be ignored.
“Today, we are facing a confluence of multiple crises affecting our collective health as well as that of this planet that we inhabit”, Professor Poppema explained. “These crises are driven by a complex interplay of human-generated political, social, economic, and environmental factors, and have dire humanitarian consequences including deterioration of our collective health and the health of the natural world and diminishing the chance of healthy and happy lives and survival for succeeding generations”.
And so there is a need for a new approach that emphasizes humanity coming together, assuming greater responsibility for our collective actions, working with a stress on equalising responsible access to and use of limited resources, underwritten by the need to act urgently, here and now.
Dr. Jemilah confirmed that “the Centre will leverage the diverse capacities of the University’s existing faculties and networks and will forge new connections with partners from the region and around the world. In its inaugural phase, the Centre will focus on Asia and the Pacific regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and other planetary health challenges. We will also engage with the government and institutions in Malaysia so that planetary health approaches can support prevention of the next pandemic, help to address the climate crisis, and contribute to the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 and sustainable economy”.
The Centre will pioneer the application of the planetary health approach to address the causes and consequences of human health and environmental change. It will provide a space to share knowledge about planetary health, translating academic discourse into easily accessible information, facilitating learning, and creating solutions together with a broad range of stakeholders to effect lasting systemic change.
Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah explained the rationale for the establishment of the Centre at Sunway University. “Sunway is one of the fastest growing and most innovative universities in the world. We are making this important investment as we aspire to become the first planetary health-oriented university in the world” he said.
“Through the new Centre, Sunway University will contribute to the advancement of planetary health through education, research, making knowledge accessible, and engaging with people across the Asia and Pacific regions and bring our knowledge and expertise to the world”.
In recent years, Sunway University has made a strong commitment to advance the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The new Centre will further enrich the University’s ongoing efforts, expand its mission beyond the year 2030 and encompass pressing planetary challenges at the confluence of human and environmental health.
Contact: Oliver Lacey-Hall, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +60103541681