1st Planetary Health Academy

On this site you can access the material of our first edition of the Planetary Health Academy of the summer semester 2020.
As the first lectures were originally held in German, the recordings are provided with an english voiceover.
You can find all the videos and announcement texts down below.

About the Planetary Health Academy in Spring 2020

Climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century because we humans are inextricably linked to our planet’s natural systems and dependent on their integrity. The destruction of natural habitats and the growing proximity of animals and humans make an estimated 800,000 unknown viruses a risk. For example, in early 2020, the Covid 19 crisis brought home to us the connections between human and planetary health.

The health sector plays a central role in communicating, preventing, and following up on the impacts of the climate and environmental crisis. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure the inclusion of climate change and planetary health in education, training, and professional development in all health professions.

This is precisely where the Planetary Health Academy’s free online lecture series comes in: Leading experts – in spring 2020 among others Prof. Dr. Dr. Sabine Gabrysch (Charite, PIK), Prof. Dr. Johannes Vogel (Direktor Museum für Naturkunde), Luisa Neubauer (Fridays for Future), Prof. Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf (PIK), PD Dr. Ilona Otto (PIK), Dr. Kim Grützmacher (Wildlife Conservation Society), Prof. Dr. Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann (TU München, Helmholtz Zentrum München), Dr. Nick Watts (Executive Director Lancet Countdown on Climate Change and Health), Prof. Dr. Hanns-Christian Gunga (Charité), Prof. Dr. Claudia Kemfert (German Institute for Economic Research), Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen (Healthy Earth Healthy People Foundation) and Prof. Dr. Harald Lesch (LMU Munich) – conveyed to the participants the connections between human health, political, economic and social concerns, and the natural systems of our planet, on which human civilization depends.


Recordings and materials of the Planetary Health Academy in Spring 2020

05-13-2020, 17.00 – 18.00 o’clock

#1 Climate Science, Planetary Boundaries, Tipping Points, Biodiversity

Prof. Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)
Prof. Dr. Josef Settele (Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research )

Video and additional material of the 1st lecture
Climate Science, Planetary Boundaries, Tipping Points, Biodiversity (Planetary Health Academy #1)
Dieses Video ansehen auf YouTube.
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The first lecture revolves around central concepts of Planetary Health: Climate science is a multidisciplinary field of research. It deals in particular with the challenges of climate change, approaches to solutions and their prospects of success. In 2009, Johan Rockström and colleagues described “planetary resilience limits” for nine natural key systems and processes. Their definition is based on scientific findings and on the application of the precautionary principle. Another important concept are so-called tipping points: these tipping points describe a moment at which a previously straightforward development abruptly breaks off due to feedback, changes extremely or accelerates strongly. Once these points are passed, irreversible processes take place, e.g. all ice on Greenland melts, and there is no possibility to return to the previous state. Moreover, it is almost impossible to make predictions about subsequent changes. The two concepts are now central to the consideration and assessment of planetary change. Some limits have been exhausted already and tipping points are dangerously close. We must do everything we can to redirect quickly enough to get out of the danger zone! Biodiversity with its three domains (genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity) is also an indicator of an intact habitat and contributes significantly to the stability of the natural systems of our planet. Our two speakers are among the world’s most important researchers in their respective fields of work and are, or were, lead authors on reports by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and IPBES (Intergovernmental Platform of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), respectively.


05-20-2020, 17.00 – 18.00 o’clock

#2 Health Consequences Of Exceeding The Planetary Boundaries

Prof. Dr. Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann (Klinikum rechts der Isar TU München, Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Health)
Dr. Nick Watts (Executive Director Lancet Countdown on Climate Change and Health)
Prof. Dr. Hanns-Christian Gunga (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin)

Video and additional material of the 2nd lecture
Health Consequences Of Exceeding The Planetary Boundaries (Planetary Health Academy #2)
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The climate crisis is a medical emergency! This is the opinion of experts from leading medical journals – such as the Lancet – who describe climate change as the greatest threat to global health in our century. Especially for us health professionals, the link between the transgression of planetary boundaries and its health consequences is a central aspect. We are responsible for our patients and should be able to take care of their health in the best possible way. Therefore, it is important to know about the impact of the climate and biodiversity crisis and to understand how the health sector can adapt to the changing conditions. However, the speakers will not stop at presenting the negative effects, but will make clear how great the benefits, so-called “co-benefits”, of consistent climate and biodiversity protection can be for health. The topic of heat will form a separate focus.


05-27-2020, 17.00 – 18.00 o’clock

#3 Planetary Health: Examples and Perspectives

Prof. Dr. Dr. Sabine Gabrysch (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)
Dr. Kim Grützmacher (Wildlife Conservation Society)
Dr. Renzo Guinto (PH Lab, Philippines)

Video and additional material of the 3rd lecture
Planetary Health: Examples and Perspectives (Planetary Health Academy #3)
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While the health of people worldwide has improved tremendously over the last decades, the health status of our planet has deteriorated dramatically. Planetary crises including climate change, species extinction and pollution are affecting food production, water quality and availability, air quality and the habitability of where we live. This is already fueling the emergence and spread of numerous diseases. The increasing overshoot of planetary boundaries threatens to become the defining factor in the Global Burden of Disease in the coming decades. Poorer people and our children and grandchildren will be affected the most.

The emergence of the field of Planetary Health, as a further development of Public and Global Health, creates a new conceptual and action framework for the challenges described. While Public Health is primarily concerned with local and national health protection and promotion and Global Health focuses on transboundary factors influencing human health, Planetary Health radically expands the concept and emphasizes the importance of natural systems as the basis of human civilization and health. The speakers will deepen the transdisciplinary understanding of Planetary Health and show examples of how to work with it. They will also address obvious and hidden links to the corona crisis.

Sabine Gabrysch, a physician and epidemiologist, conducts research on global health issues and was appointed last year to the first German university professorship on climate change and health. As a founding member of KLUG, she has contributed the central role of the Planetary Health approach. As such, she is the real driving force behind this lecture series. Veterinarian and biomedical scientist Kim Gruetzmacher has worked at the intersection of human, wildlife and ecosystem health for nearly 20 years. Physician and public health expert Renzo Guinto is establishing a think-and-do tank in the Philippines for innovative solutions for human and planetary health.


06-03-2020, 17.00 – 18.00 o’clock

#4 Transformation, Crisis and Social Tipping Elements

Dr. Martin Herrmann (KLUG)
Luisa Neubauer (Fridays For Future)
PD Dr. Ilona Otto (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)
Dr. Maike Weißpflug (Museum of Natural History Berlin)

Video and additional material of the 4th lecture
Transformation, Crisis And Social Tipping Elements (Planetary Health Academy #4)
Dieses Video ansehen auf YouTube.
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Lecture of PD Dr. Ilona Otto (pdf-file)

Why you should be a climate activist, Ted-Talk of Luisa Neubauer, July 2019

The first three lectures had diagnosed a “Planetary Health Emergency”. It became clear that we are facing multiple crisis fields with complex interactions and timelines. At the level of action, this also necessitates a major transformation – profound, cross-sectoral, global. Historically, it is comparable to the transition from hunter-gatherers to agrarians and city builders, and to the industrial revolution. With one major difference: the current transition is happening with time pressure. The great transformation can only succeed if people in many different places take the lead individually and network globally – even if they are in the minority. Through non-linear, strategic “social tipping interventions,” they can counter the looming tipping points of climate catastrophes.

The four presenters have developed perspectives on transformative action at very different levels and will present them in the 4th lecture: Ilona Otto, together with other researchers, was the first to describe the concept of Social Tipping Elements. It is a milestone for the self-understanding of change agents. Luisa Neubauer, together with all other Fridays for Future Activists, reframed the climate crisis and powerfully put it back at the center of the global agenda. Her book, articles and videos are among the clearest and most thought-provoking contributions to the climate debate of the last 18 months. Maike Weißpflug, as a political philosopher, brings Hannah Arendt into the conversation with her thoughts on freedom and new beginnings in recognition of the limits of nature. Martin Herrmann has been dealing with transformation processes for 30 years, in medicine, in business and in recent years especially in the “Global Health” field. These experiences have been incorporated into the development of KLUG and Health for Future.


06-10-2020, 17.00 – 18.00 o’clock

#5 Transdisciplinary Perspectives

Prof. Dr. Claudia Kemfert (DIW – German Institute for Economic Research)
Prof. Dr. Harald Lesch (LMU Munich)
Prof. Dr. Johannes Vogel (Museum of Natural History, Berlin)

Video and additional material of the 5th lecture
Transdisciplinary Perspectives (Planetary Health Academy #5)
Dieses Video ansehen auf YouTube.
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There is no additional material in english available for this lecture.

The word transdisciplinarity is booming, but it is not so clear how many researchers and practitioners can fill the word with life. After all, a lot still takes place in scientific silos or in transdisciplinary meetings, where people listen to each other in a friendly way without letting themselves be touched and changed in a passionate exchange with each other. This is precisely the point: to understand what is at stake in individual or interconnected crisis fields with people from different disciplines, that are relevant to the crisis, and to be on the way to do research together. The economic perspective plays an enormously important role in this, especially when it is located outside economic orthodoxies. This is what Claudia Kemfert stands for and will present her understanding of her discipline for the Planetary Health context. Johannes Vogel brings a new understanding of what a museum is and can be. For him and his colleagues, Planetary Health represents the crucial conceptual framework for the transformation of their own institution. Harald Lesch is an astrophysicist, natural philosopher, moderator, science journalist and actor. Among other things, he will report from the transdisciplinary conferences of his various roles.


06-17-2020, 17.00 – 18.00 o’clock

#6 Communication

Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen (Healthy Earth Healthy People Foundation)
Dr. Nick Watts (Executive Director Lancet Countdown on Climate Change and Health)
Sylvia Hartmann (KLUG)

Video and additional material of the 6th lecture
Communication (Planetary Health Academy #6)
Dieses Video ansehen auf YouTube.
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There is no additional material in english available for this lecture.

Our ability to speak and understand language is what makes us unique as humans. But the receiver does not always get what the sender intended. However, communicating clearly can be learned. In the healthcare sector, for example, initial conversations, the transmission of bad news and how lifestyle changes can be initiated through conversations are already practiced during training. Good communication is also the cornerstone for initiating political change. Therefore, we need to consciously think about how to communicate the issues of climate, environmental and health protection. It starts with the choice of narratives – visionary or deterrent? How to deal with deniers and critics? And how, ultimately, is real political change set in motion after talking?

Eckart von Hirschhausen, as a doctor, science journalist and comedian, has been talking and exchanging ideas with people for more than 20 years and will give examples of how good communication can make climate and environmental issues more appealing.

Nick Watts, as director of Lancet Countdown, has years of experience in what it takes in political communication to move new issues forward.

Sylvia Hartmann, as a founding member of the German Climate Change and Health Alliance (KLUG), has been active in the climate movement for a long time and reports on the development process from choosing narratives to emerging as a political actor.


06-24-2020, 17.00 – 18.00 o’clock

#7 Examples of Transformative Action 1:

Dr. Ralph Krolewski (Family Doctor in Gummersbach, Germany)
Prof. Dr. Annette Peters
(Helmholtz Center for Environment and Health Munich)
Thomas Voß, Kaufmännischer Direktor  (LWL Clinics Münster & Lengerich)

Video and additional material of the 7th lecture
Examples Of Transformative Action I (Planetary Health Academy #7)
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There is no additional material in english available for this lecture.

The last three lectures will focus on transformative action approaches and concrete examples of transformative action.

Professor Annette Peters is one of the leading researchers on air pollutants. Her research findings directly call for transformative action. This involves issues such as urban development, mobility, and the phase-out of fossil fuels. And it’s about community, national and global strategic starting points.

Ralph Krolewski is a family physician. He presents the Climate Consultation, a methodical approach to incorporate the Planetary Health perspective as a family doctor in the consultations with his patients. He also shows how the vision of climate neutrality is practically implemented in his practice.

Thomas Voß has been working on the comprehensive transformation to sustainability of the LWL Clinics Münster & Lengerich (Psychiatric Specialty Hospitals) for 20 years. He will share his experiences, successes and current challenges.


07-01-2020, 17.00 – 18.00 o’clock

#8 Examples of Transformative Action 2:

Dr. Nicole de Paula (IASS Potsdam)
PD Dr. Christian Schulz
(Klinikum rechts der Isar TU München)
Dr. Marco Springmann
(Oxford University)
Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner (Federal Environment Agency)

Video and additional material of the 8th lecture
Examples Of Transformative Action II (Planetary Health Academy #8)
Dieses Video ansehen auf YouTube.
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There is no additional material in english available for this lecture.

Nicole de Paula is doing research on Planetary Health at the Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research IASS Potsdam. Her focus is the further development of the concept with projects and networks in the global south and from a gender perspective. She will talk about her experiences of Women Leaders for Planetary Health.

Christian Schulz is managing senior physician in anesthesiology. For the past 2 years, he first understood the existential importance of Planetary Health for himself and then found ways to work on two key issues from within his immediate work environment. One is a project that approaches for the implementation of the Zero Emission Hospitals vision and the other is the prioritization of divestment in medical pension plans and private health insurance companies.

Marco Springmann is one of the lead authors of the EAT Lancet study “Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems.” He will present the main findings of the commission and approaches for transformative action derived from them.

Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner is president of the German Federal Environmental Agency. He is also co-director of the “Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research” at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Prof. Messner was previously Director of the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in Bonn and Vice Rector of the United Nations University (UNU). Prof. Messner is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of globalization/global governance, transformations towards sustainability, decarbonization of the global economy, sustainability and digital transformation, and international cooperation and societal change. He will share some key experiences with transformative action.


07-08-2020, 17.00 – 18.00 o’clock

#9 Examples of Transformative Action 3:

Transformative examples from ten Health for Future groups
Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)

Video and additional material of the 9th lecture
Examples Of Transformative Action III (Planetary Health Academy #9)
Dieses Video ansehen auf YouTube.
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There is no additional material in english available for this lecture.

This lecture marks the conclusion of the first lecture series of the Planetary Health Academy with the question: Where, how and with whom do I set my action priorities? You will learn from newly formed groups about their actions and goals, from existing groups how they have grown strongly in recent weeks, sharpened action strategies, and been present at demonstrations and vigils. And you will learn about concrete project examples in the areas sustainability in practices, education, divestment and politics. At the same time, we aim to embed transformative action in knowledge and research from leading experts.

In this spirit, Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, developer of the Planetary Boundaries concept, and one of the most cited and influential sustainability and transformation researchers in the world, will deliver a short keynote address.


Scientific director of the lecture series: Dr. Martin Herrmann

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