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Planetary Health

Rising global health standards could prove short lived.

Environmental damage from climate change, pollution and other impacts threatens our food and water sources, the air we breathe and our exposure to infectious diseases. These human-caused changes to natural life support systems are projected to drive the majority of the global burden of disease over the coming century, hitting today’s most vulnerable and future generations the hardest.

The field of Planetary Health focuses on related linkages and impacts, while revealing the health benefits of improved environmental stewardship. Because ecosystems and human communities are complex systems, understanding and acting upon related health challenges requires collaboration across traditional boundaries. Planetary Health bridges environmental science, political science, economics and social science to understand technical, social, economic and political dimensions.


  • Document connections between environmental impacts and human health
  • Find solutions that that improve public health by fostering a healthy environment
  • Help decision-makers accurately value natural services and environmental stewardship

Planetary Health at Stanford

Stanford’s focus on collaborative, interdisciplinary solution-oriented research and its expertise in environmental sciences and health make it an ideal proving ground for Planetary Health. Stanford-based centers and programs such as the Woods Institute for the Environment, the Center for Innovation in Global Health; the Program for Disease Ecology, Health and the Environment; and the Natural Capital Project, support a community of scholars that pioneers cutting-edge research and creative educational initiatives to affect policy and practice around challenges at the intersection of health and the environment.

Scholars from around the world will come to Stanford for the 2019 meeting of the Planetary Health Alliance, a consortium of over 95 universities, NGOs, government entities, research institutes and others partners that forges collaborations to inform policy solutions.

Planetary Health in the Field

Stanford researchers are collaborating on numerous Planetary Health initiatives around the world. Some examples:

Revitalizing Informal Settlements and the Environment (RISE)

waterside slum

This multi-institution project aims to improve the environment and health in impoverished coastal communities susceptible to extreme weather events and rising sea levels.



The Upstream Alliance


Researchers are creating solutions to naturally reduce schistosomiasis, a deadly parasitic disease, while helping fight hunger and alleviate poverty.


Health in Harmony

woman tends tree seedlings

An Indonesia-based effort to incentivize a reduction in logging through healthcare discounts, a community liaison program, chainsaw buyback programs and sustainable agriculture trainings.