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Planetary Health: The Recipe for a Sustainable Future

July 2023

Inaugural Address - Delivered by the acceptance of the Chair ‘Planetary Health’, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Maastricht University, The Netherlands, 21 April 2023

Dear Pro Rector, dear family, friends, and colleagues: Welcome to the inaugural lecture of the chair Planetary Health, entitled: Planetary health: the recipe for a sustainable future. Of course, I will explain the field of Planetary Health in more detail later. But first, I'd like to take you through how it all started for me. I will also give you a glimpse of the two most important health problems facing our planet: climate change and biodiversity loss. 

teeming with life

The concept of Planetary Health is too human-oriented. The emphasis here is mainly on the consequences for our health through global environmental disturbances. Later definitions are already better, with the focus more on the health of our planet and the realization that human health ultimately depends on the health of the planet. For example, climate change and the decrease in biodiversity are unhealthy for the earth and everything that lives on it, including humans.

However, the field of Planetary Health is more than that. It is not only the realization that everything is connected, but also the realization that it is not nearly enough to keep the planet ‘as it is’.

Positive, regenerative development must take place to keep the planet and everything on it healthy. This also includes a different way of dealing with our earth, a change of perspective.

When we respect our planet, we respect life, we respect ourselves. That is also what I believe Planetary Health stands for. Taking sustainability to the next level!




human impacts

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