Planetary health

Planetary health

Climate change is undeniably one of the largest impacts of human behaviour and may be humankind’s greatest challenge. It will result in higher temperatures, sea-level rise, increased storm strength and occurrence, and drought that will alter food production, biodiversity, migration and human disease patterns.

Through all of our consultation sessions, nothing weighed more on our students, faculty and staff than the need for urgent and accelerated global environmental action. As a Faculty, we are passionate about finding solutions to the climate crisis and creating leaders in environmental action (strategy 17) in areas of climate, sustainability and planetary health.

Connections + context

We are training the next generation of professionals who will be dealing with the reality of a changed climate. Our students need to understand how to design and create a built environment appropriate for the new climate. They must also be able to quantify the impact of human behaviour on planetary health to develop and deploy state-of-the-art decision-making, policies and technologies (Leading-edge teaching, 1).

UBC ranks first in the world for university climate action and third for sustainable cities and communities. In 2018, it became the first university in Canada to develop a sustainable development policy and achieved a 38% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions despite a 32% growth in the student population. Our Faculty is building on this success, creating a city-scale testbed for leading-edge technologies and policies to address climate change (Community solutions, 16).

“We can make UBC Applied Science a leader in sustainability both within UBC and Vancouver by implementing sustainable practices within our curricula, and supporting students, faculty and staff in making green changes.”

Faculty member, School of Nursing

We integrate disciplines (2) and support teams of educators and researchers with impactful research (12) in health, technology, planning and design who are seeking comprehensive solutions for thriving people, places and planet. A green future will require sustainable mining, integrated energy systems, new policies driven by data, and radical changes in the built environment.

We support entrepreneurial thinking (11) to develop the bold new technologies and services needed to both mitigate and respond to a changing climate, and promote agency (15) for actions that will have tremendous social and economic impact.

While we are committed to this cause internally, we cannot do it alone. We are establishing strategic partnerships (14) with leading-edge clean tech companies, resource industries, Indigenous communities, the transportation sector, municipalities and health providers to enable the transition to a low-carbon economy. These partnerships ensure our research supports human health, traditional ecological knowledge (Truth & reconciliation, 8), and prosperity while addressing environmental changes.