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Learning for Planetary Health:

Early Lessons from a Pandemic

As we face one of the greatest challenges for public health in several generations with the COVID-19 pandemic, we also have an unprecedented opportunity as governments and citizens prepare for a post-COVID future that we hope will not be simply restoring everything to the way it was. The pandemic has been described as climate change at warp speed. But the response to this "greatest challenge" has been quite different. Since this is such a ripe opportunity for learning, we (several eco-health colleagues and the SFU Planetary Health research group, and the BC Climate and Health Network) have organized these webinars with more in planning stages. We began by exploring the origins of the outbreak with lessons from the animal-human interface. We then learned from previous economic collapses and what these lessons teach us about the coming weeks and months as we emerge from the current wave of disease and economic devastation to become a healthier planet than before the current pandemic. We explore the relationships and resources needed for a recovery that makes us stronger and better able to face the challenges to planetary health that in the longer term are even more critical than the COVID-19 pandemic, but that appears less imminent to society.

We have taken lessons in inequities, exposed by disparities in mortality and morbidity by location, air pollution levels, occupation and socioeconomic status. We heard inspirational stories from Ebola-ready countries in Africa, about resilience and bouncing forward not back; international efforts towards a green new deal for health and protecting gains in UN sustainable development goals. Our primary goal is to articulate a shared vision of this future where instead of bouncing back, society bounces forward to a better place than our pre-pandemic world.

For a quick backgrounder, before diving into the hours of discussion available below, check out Jonathan Patz, from the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin, discussing environmental and social determinants of the pandemic in a 9 minute video.

Webinar Agenda

9-10:30am (PDT)

Building it back better, mental health and substance use in the time of COVID-19

  • Hasina Samji - Measuring the dual impacts of climate change and COVID-19 on young people’s mental health

  • Julian Somers - COVID-19, Addiction and Renewing the Social Contract

9-10:30am (PDT)

Livable cities post-COVID: a focus on urban planning and transportation.

Hosted by Meghan Winters and Caislin Firth.

  • Steven Farber and Matt Palm - Public Transit

  • City of Vancouver Transportation Staff - Municipal responses to COVID-19


Should you have any interest in presenting at a webinar, please contact Dr. Tim Takaro at or Jaclyn Parks at

For a highly interactive experience, join us at's conferencing space, hosted by

Previous Sessions Here

Session 1: April 15 (CoPEH platform session link)

12:30-2pm Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)

Introduction and goals of the sessions which are, to learn about the human response to our current pandemic and articulate an accessible and achievable action agenda for bouncing forward in our relationship with each other and the planet in the post-COVID-19 era.

Moderated by Chris Buse.

  • Tim Takaro, MD, MPH: What are these sessions hoping to accomplish?

  • Mira Ziolo, DVM. Karma: Mother Nature fights back with a zoonosis

  • Trevor Hancock, MB BS, MHSc: Be careful what you wish for: Bouncing back to economic boom times is bad for health. More than resilience: Bouncing back to a better place.

  • Tim Takaro: What’s climate change got to do with it? + Introduction to the next sessions

Session 1 has been completed & you may view the recording here. Dr. Tim Takaro's presentation on COVID-19 and climate change is available here, Dr. Mira Ziolo's presentation "Mother Nature fights back with a zoonosis" is available here, and Dr. Trevor Hancock's presentation "Rock Forward, Not Back" is available here.

Session 2: April 22 (SFU platform session link)

12:30-2pm Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)

Bouncing forward to a sustainable world: resilience, equity & climate change adaptation with a pandemic.

Sustainability after this pandemic.

  • Kris Ebi, PhD. International dimensions of the crisis, what the pandemic could mean for climate change adaptation

  • Maya Gislason, PhD. Recovery for everyone: equity issues and lessons from the pandemic

  • Chris Buse, PhD. Climate Change in a time of COVID: Bouncing forward, not back

Session 2 has concluded & you may watch the recording below. Dr. Kristie Ebi's presentation on Covid-19 and climate change adaption is available here and Dr. Maya Gislason's presentation on equity issues and lessons from the pandemic is available here. Dr. Chris Buse's presentation "Climate Change in a time of COVID: Bouncing forward, not back" can be found here.

Session 3: April 29 (SFU platform session link)

12:30-2pm Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)

Hard hit urban populations, air pollution and energy system reboot all connected to a sustainable world.

Sustainability after this pandemic.

  • Cheryl Teelucksingh, PhD. Special challenges of urban racialized and low-income populations

  • Jeff Brook, PhD. Air pollution COVID-19 interactions, what are we not measuring?

  • Marc Lee, PhD. The energy transition and a low-carbon reboot

Session 3 has concluded & you may watch the recording below. Dr. Cheryl Teelucksingh's presentation "Special challenges of urban racialized and low-income populations" is available here and Dr. Jeff Brook's presentation "Special challenges of urban racialized and low-income populations" is available here.

Session 4: May 6 (SFU platform session link)

9-10:30am Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)

Voices from Africa and the struggle for a healthier planet and a sustainable world.

Voices from Zambia and Rwanda:

  • Douglas Singini, MSc. MBBS. Public health in Zambia before and after the pandemic

  • Greg Bakunzi, Conservation and community-based ecotourism in Rwanda meets COVID-19

  • Craig Janes, PhD with Christine Edet, MBBS and Mwimanenwa Njungu, MBBS. How Zambia is building a resilient health system

Session 4 has concluded & you may watch the recording below. Dr. Tim Takaro's presentation is available here, Dr. Dougas Singini's presentation "Public health in Zambia before and after the pandemic" is available here, and Greg Bakunzi's presentation "Conservation and community-based ecotourism in Rwanda meets COVID-19" is available here.

Session 5: May 13

9-11am * (PDT)

Group discussion – Mobilizing for the bounce forward. The first of several sessions designed to explore policy options and potential actions in your communities for the in the post-COVID-19 era.

Introduction and polling results (Tim Takaro)

1) Nino Paichadze -UN Sustainable Development Goals post COVID-19

2) Trevor Hancock -A Green (New) Deal for (Planetary) Health (Wellbeing)

On May 13th, SFU’s Learning for Planetary Health; Lessons from a Pandemic webinar series offered an action-agenda workshop. The purpose of this workshop was to hear from all of our participants and work together to identify challenges and actionable resolutions for each of the following topics in a post-COVID world:

Session 1: Knowledge Translation on the Origins of the Pandemic

Moderator: Mira Ziolo

Notetaker: Holly Clermont

Session 2: Climate Change and Energy Policy

Moderator: Tim Takaro

Notetaker: Jordan Brubacher

Session 3: Equity, Environmental Justice, and Indigenous Rights

Moderator: Maya Gislason

Notetaker: Dawn Hoogeveen

Session 4: United Nations and Sustainable Development Goal-friendly Nations

Moderator: Nino Paichadze

Notetaker: Angel Kennedy

Session 5: Municipal/Community-based Initiatives: Change from Bottom Up

Moderator: Trevor Hancock

Notetaker: Stephanie Witham

Notes from each focus group have been compiled in this document for your ease and future referral. Please first download the document, and then you may click on a Session name to jump to that specific section of the notes. Thank you to our moderators and note-takers for capturing these engaged and productive discussions.

The introductory presentation is available here, Dr. Nino Paichadze's presentation "UN Sustainable Development Goals post COVID-19" is available here, and Dr. Trevor Hancock's presentation "A Green (New) Deal for (Planetary) Health (Wellbeing) is available here.

* Note extended time

Session 6: May 20

9-10:30am (PDT)

Learning from HIV about population dynamics and spread in the current pandemic, and the geography of consumption related to climate change.

  • Kiffer Card - Demography and consumption - Prioritizing climate policies in an era of global demographic transition.

  • Bob Hogg - HIV risk and Climate Change - Linked by Food Insecurity

Session 6 has concluded. Kiffer Card and Bob Hogg's presentations can be found here.

Session 7: May 27

9-10:30am (PDT)

Air pollution, smoking and protecting gains for public health in a pandemic driven by viral pneumonia.

  • Mary Rice - SARS CoV2, outdoor air pollution and inequality, the bad, the good and the ugly.

  • John Balmes - Smoke, indoor air-pollution and protecting the public from roll-backs of environmental regulations

Session 7 has concluded. Tim Takaro's background slides can be found here, Mary Rice's presentation can be found here, and John Balmes' slides can be found here.

Can't make these times?

We know that the timezones will present a challenge for some. You can watch the recording of our previous webinars, and/or join a webinar series offered by our colleagues at the British Columbia Lung Association

  • Covid-19 and Wildfire Smoke (June 3) from 10AM to 11AM PDT - Panelists include Dr. Sarah Henderson from BC Centre for Disease Control, and Dr. Chris Carlsten from the University of British Columbia/Vancouver Coastal Health.