The health of human civilization and the state of the biospheric systems on which it depends, are intimately linked. This planetary system is now very tightly coupled, with both enormous information content and potential for novelty, albeit with declining resilience. Can we have the foresight to transform our present actions and value choices not only to anticipate future global health scenarios, but more explicitly to create the “future we want”? Traditional reactive approaches to anticipating and planning for the future typically use a scenario planning strategy that is driven by data, trend analysis and expert opinion. Rather than simply reacting, the objective of global health foresighting is acting imaginatively and intentionally toward the “Global Health We Want,” employing a transdisciplinary approach informed by intentional design and transformative scenario planning.
(1) Integrative Health and Wellness.
Traditional allopathic health perspectives are rooted in the diagnosis, cure or management of disease and in disease prevention. Beyond concepts of ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’, little attention is focused on creating the conditions for health and wellness, as well as integrating the best of science and technology in these. The theme of integrated health and wellness will seek to challenge Western ideas and practices, including reductionist views of allopathic medicine, public health and risk management. In exploring alternative conceptions, world views and practices of health and wellness, we will openly explore a diversity of perspectives, including Inuit, Indigenous, Ayurvedic, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Against the challenges facing human and planetary systems, we will explore and encourage the emergence of a “New Story of Health and Wellness,” or new ways of seeing the health and wellness of ‘self-other-community-earth’.
(2) 'Big Science', Health and Human Systems.
The 21st Century is marked by a culmination of rapid and profound paradigmatic societal and technological shifts. These transformations and their reshaping of human systems, have not always been equitable, and have massive individual, public and global public health impacts. Over two billion people, for example, still live without basic sanitation and continue to be at risk from infectious diseases, while six million children die each year before reaching the age of five. This is complicated by growing challenges of access to water, food and energy necessary to sustain just and suitable living standards. At the same time, massive techno-scientific - or ‘Big Science’ - revolutions are occurring in the fields of genetics, robotics, blockchain and artificial intelligence. With the synthesis of biology, technology and machine learning on the horizon, these paradigmatic shifts present serious implications, but also opportunities for individual health, health systems, as well as human and planetary systems. This theme will explore fundamental questions, including: equitable application of health research, practice and ideas; what techno-scientific advances may mean in terms of risks and opportunities; and how they reshape human and ecological systems.