Helsinki declaration on planetary health calls for commitment from the EU


Credit: Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare

Scientific evidence shows that human activities impact global warming, biodiversity loss, land degradation, overuse of natural resources, and pollution. They threaten the health and safety of human kind.

In December 2019, the pioneers of an emerging concept, Planetary Health, gathered together at a Finland’s EU Presidency side event, organised by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). As a result, The Helsinki Declaration, which calls for multidisciplinary approach from the EU to protect the Planet and human health with full commitment of relevant commissions, was drafted.

In the declaration, the researchers suggest that the planetary health paradigm ? the health of human civilization and the state of natural systems on which it depends ? must become the driver of all policies.

The declaration stresses:

  • raising awareness of the strong interlinkage between human and planetary health
  • social justice that enables nature conservation and restoration
  • long-term goals over short-term political victories or economical gains
  • short-term actions, like reducing air pollution, chemical contamination and ending smoking
  • interventions that produce results for political decisions and models for societal learning
  • well-functioning, sustainable and biodiverse natural systems
  • scientific knowledge and innovation for the basis of actions
  • evaluation and adjustment of these actions.

“The conference participants were from various fields, but they shared the same thought: safeguarding natural systems means that we are safeguarding our health. The time to act on this agenda is now. The harmful effects of human activities on the environment and human health are already quite tremendous,” says the Director of THL’s Research Programme on Safe and Health Promoting Environment, Jaana Halonen.

According to the declaration, governments and decision makers need to address the health impacts of major environmental threats on a regular basis to prompt timely and concrete actions. Also, improved cooperation between various sectors including health, environment, energy, agricultural and transport as well as chemical and other industries is essential.

“The Planetary Health concept pays attention to the interlinkages between various sustainable development goals. This is a solid pathway towards a safe and just world, which UN Agenda 2030 strives for. Therefore, the conference and the declaration are so timely,” says Eeva Furman, Director of the Environmental Policy Centre, Finnish Environment Institute.

“Extensive cooperation, political commitment and adequate resourcing will facilitate the change. It is also fundamental that society, communities and citizens work to extensively implement approaches for enhancing and promoting living environments and natural systems, and consequently, our health.”


Read the Helsinki Declaration at:

Media Contact
Jaana Halonen
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