Academic Medicine’s Responsibility to Advance Planetary Health

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Climate change is no longer a looming threat – it is a code red for humanity. The clock is ticking, and we need to act fast to protect our planet and safeguard human health. As healthcare professionals, we have a responsibility to lead the charge towards a healthier, sustainable, and just future for all. This is not just an opportunity, but a moral imperative that cannot be ignored.

The Academic Health Institutions’ Declaration on Planetary Health is a crucial step towards creating real change. It highlights the urgent need for all academic health institutions to take responsibility for the impact of their actions on the planet’s natural systems. By signing the declaration, institutions pledge to take immediate action to halt the negative impact of their activities and adopt adaptive and regenerative measures to restore and improve ecosystems.

The AFMC is strongly committed to developing resources and supports for our faculties of medicine to meet the commitments of the declaration. We have established a new AFMC Planetary and Global Health Committee to act as a national collective to enable and support implementations of the declaration across Canadian medical schools.

As healthcare professionals, we must equip ourselves with the knowledge and skills needed to address the impact of human disruptions to Earth’s natural systems. Our institutions can take concrete steps towards achieving this goal. From promoting sustainable food systems to implementing green infrastructure, reducing energy consumption, and supporting research on climate change and its impact on health – the possibilities are endless. We must advocate for policies that promote planetary health and collaborate with other organizations to foster planetary health literacy and action. Supporting the empowerment of women and girls and monitoring and reporting on progress towards achieving our goals are other crucial steps that we must take.

By transitioning to climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems, we can ensure that our institutions are not just prepared for the future but are actively working towards a better one. We cannot afford to wait any longer. The time for action is now, and it starts with us. To find out more about what your institution can do and become a signatory to the declaration, click here: https://www.afmc.ca/initiatives/planetaryhealthdeclaration/ Let us act today for a better tomorrow!