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Advancing Human Health in the Era of Climate Change and Planetary Health: Lessons and Experiences from the Philippines

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In recent years, planetary health has evolved not just as an emerging field of scientific inquiry but also as a novel policy framework, fresh ethical paradigm, and renewed basis for collective action that integrates both the health of people and the planet. Over the past century, human activities have grown economies, improved health, and enhanced the quality of life – at the expense of the world’s natural resources. Today, global environmental change – not just in the form of climate change but also biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, and other ecosystem alterations – is threatening the health of future generations in return. As a tropical archipelagic country with a rising economy yet with chronic poverty and persistent inequality, the Philippines is undeniably a planetary health hotspot, hit by natural disasters and slowly affected by the subtle manifestations of climate breakdown. However, the country, with its rich natural capital, untapped energy and creativity, and innate societal resilience, also has an immense potential to be a world leader in planetary health transformation.

At this lecture, Dr. Renzo Guinto, Chief Planetary Doctor of PH Lab – a ‘glo-cal think-and-do tank’ for generating planetary health solutions in the developing world – and a recent Doctor of Public Health graduate of Harvard University, will share his perspectives about this new exciting field of planetary health as well as lessons and experiences from the Philippines as the country confronts climate change and other planetary health challenges.

This event will be chaired by Michael Collins, Institutional and Lead for NHBE Cambridge.

About the Speaker

Visiting us from from Harvard, Dr Renzo Guinto MD DrPH is a Filipino physician working at the nexus of global health and sustainable development. He is the Chief Planetary Doctor of PH Lab – a ‘glo-cal think-and-do tank’ for advancing the health of both people and the planet. One of the staunchest, most exciting, and innovative voices for planetary health from the Global South, Renzo is the youngest and sole student member of the Editorial Advisory Board of The Lancet Planetary Health, the world’s first planetary health journal, and a founding member of the Emerging Scholars Network of the Planetary Health Alliance, which is headquartered at Harvard University. Renzo recently finished his Doctor of Public Health degree at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; for his doctoral thesis, Renzo investigated local health system responses to climate change in coastal municipalities in the Philippines. From September to December 2019 he joins the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium as a Visiting Fellow, focusing on planetary health innovation and the decolonization of global health.

A global health ‘deep generalist,’ Renzo brings with him nearly a decade of experience in global health policy, research, advocacy, implementation, and innovation at local, national, regional, and international levels, covering the public and private sectors as well as civil society and the United Nations system, and spanning a diverse range of themes such as climate change, planetary health, universal health care, migrant health, global health security, noncommunicable diseases, global health governance and diplomacy, healthcare innovation, social determinants of health, among others. Previously, he worked for the Philippine Department of Health, International Organization for Migration, World Health Organization, World Bank, Health Care Without Harm, UP Manila Universal Health Care Study Group and Harvard Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment. He received numerous prestigious fellowships including the New Voices Fellowship of the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC and the Emerging Voices for Global Health in Cape Town, South Africa.

Renzo obtained his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of the Philippines Manila (under the accelerated INTARMED program), and received additional training from the University of Oxford, Copenhagen School of Global Health, University of the Western Cape in South Africa, and East-West Center in Hawaii. Renzo has traveled to and lectured in nearly 50 countries; published more than 50 articles in scientific journals, books and popular media; and directed and produced short films that communicate the message of planetary healing to the world.

This talk is hosted in collaboration with the PublicHealth@Cambridge Network at Cambridge Institute of Public Health (www.iph.cam.ac.uk) and NHBE (www.nhbe.org) an international interdisciplinary research group for early-career researchers exploring issues at the nexus of nature, health and built environment.

This talk is part of the Public Health talks series.

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