Putting the 'Local' Back into Planetary Health
Developing a ‘trans-local’ approach to strengthening community-led responses to planetary health crises in the face of COVID-19.
3 October 2020
Grant: Grand Challenges Special Initiatives - Place
Year awarded: 2020-21
Amount awarded: £10,000
- Dr Geordan Shannon, Institute for Global Health, Population Health
- Professor Audrey Prost, Institute for Global Health, Population Health
Funded under Grand Challenges' 'Place: Equality & Prosperity' special initiative, this collaboration was geared towards the development of a ‘trans-local’ approach to strengthening community-led responses to planetary health crises in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was designed to forge ‘trans-local’ networks of support across five distinct settings (Alaska, Finland, India, Kenya, and Peru).
To do so, the project partnered with five civil society organisations (CSOs) strengthening community-led responses to planetary health crises in the face of COVID-19. Each partner CSO works in areas where geographic remoteness, social inequity and marginalisation from mainstream political decisions create an ‘extreme’ environment of vulnerability. They navigate interlocking challenges across scales, as localised experiences of health and social inequity intersect with, and are exacerbated by, global environmental crises, regional geopolitics, and globalized extractive economic systems. Using a trans-local learning approach anchored in place-based case studies, the project sought to understand how CSO responses to COVID-19 can link livelihoods, equity, health, well-being and the environment to address current and future planetary health crises. Project participants came from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including anthropology, architecture, human rights, economics, environmental science, geography, medicine, public health, conservation, and education.
The activities were arranged to support three project objectives:
- To understand how civil society responses to COVID-19 can link livelihoods, inequity, health, wellbeing and the environment
Performing a series of stakeholder interviews with each CSO, the project developed in-depth case studies to understand how civil society responses to COVID-19 can link livelihoods, inequity, health, wellbeing and the environment. These insights were then refined through an online workshop and two months of collaborative writing. The result of the collaborative writing was a journal article submitted to the Lancet: Planetary Health.
- To build networks of learning and support to foster trans-local movements for planetary health
The project leads held an international workshop with representatives from HOPE (Finland), Ekjut (India), Sauti Dada and MAMA Kenya (Kenya), CALOR and Casita Huaran (Peru), Sitka Conservation Society and RAND (Alaska, US), STEMA and UCL (UK) to encourage network building and the sharing of experiences across contexts. As a legacy of the project, a website was created as a platform for community building and dissemination of our results.
- To ground activities in research-based education, promoting local responses to planetary health crises
Each CSO developed a series of media activities (participatory photography, film, storytelling) to promote their work and demonstrate the ways that local responses can react to global crises. The case studies were also used to develop five educational vignettes using a systems approach to capture the inter-relationship between factors affecting health, linking COVID-19 to climate change and social inequity.
The project has generated multiple impacts - including the development of new insights on how CSO responses to COVID-19 can link livelihoods, equity, health, well-being and the environment to address current and future planetary health crises. These insights have been submitted in the form of an academic paper and have been shared to the UCL student cohort through a series of educational vignettes, grounding their learning in global on-the-ground experiences. In addition, another impact generated by the project is the development of new cross-context connections and a network of support for five civil society organisations, as well as an online platform (the project website) for ongoing dissemination of key messages relating to COVID-19 and planetary health.