Planetary Health

Human health depends on the health of our planet. A number of human activities are disrupting the planetary systems that determine the ability for people, ecosystems, and all life on earth to flourish. In order to achieve health for all, we must act now to reverse these trends.

The emerging field of planetary health engages an interdisciplinary approach to identify and overcome the challenges that human actions pose to the nine earth system boundaries:

  • Climate change
  • Novel entities (chemical pollution, e.g. pharmaceuticals)
  • Stratospheric ozone depletion
  • Atmospheric aerosol loading (e.g. fine particulate matter)
  • Ocean acidification
  • Biogeochemical flows (N & P)
  • Freshwater use (scarcity)
  • Land-system change
  • Biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss and extinctions)

Together, we can achieve true planetary health by recognizing our dependence upon a healthy planet, and acting to ensure a just and equitable transition toward a better future for all.

Planetary Health at the Osher Center for Integrative Health

At the Osher Center for Integrative Health, we recognize that our healthcare system has tremendous impacts on planetary health. The U.S. healthcare system accounts for 8.5% of national greenhouse gas emissions, releases hundreds of pharmaceutical pollutants into our environment every year, and uses precious natural resources to sustain our medical supply chains. These impacts on the natural environment in turn negatively harm human health of individuals, communities, and society. Together, we are working to identify ways forward that will lead to better health for both people and the planet. Our team invites you to join us as we work together to ensure planetary health for all.

Mission: The mission of the UVM Osher Center for Integrative Health Planetary Health workgroup is to serve the well-being of people and planet, including all life on earth, by aligning integrative health education, research, clinical practices, and policy advocacy with planetary health.

Vision: The UVM Osher Center for Integrative Health Planetary Health workgroup will nurture the conditions in which all people may flourish on a healthy planet.

Goals: To achieve our mission in pursuit of our vision, the UVM Osher Center for Integrative Health Planetary Health workgroup will work to:

  • Create a collaborative environment that allows patients, providers, educators, employees, students, and policy makers to work together toward health for all.
  • Provide education, training, and outreach to support the use of Integrative Health approaches that promote well-being for patients, providers, biodiversity, and the planet.
  • Promote innovative research at the intersection of integrative health and planetary health.
  • Promote policy interventions that support the use of evidence-based Integrative Health approaches that allow better outcomes for people, biodiversity, and the planet.

2023 Priorities

  1. Support policy work
  2. Integrate Planetary Health into clinical practice
    1. Provide outreach, education, and trainings
  3. Provide community outreach & education for patients regarding connections between health, health care, and Planetary Health
  4. Integrate Planetary Health into research
  5. Integrate Planetary Health into teaching


Christine Vatovec, PhD, is the Director of the Planetary Health program at the Osher Center for Integrative Health. Dr. Vatovec's scholarship focuses on promoting actions, programs, and policies that support both human and planetary health.

Courses taught: Planetary Health, Climate Change and Human Health, Human Health and the Environment, Science and Evidence of Integrative Health

Contact to get involved.