Humanitarianism in the Anthropocene: Exploring Operational & Advocacy Frameworks to Improve Planetary Health

April 22, 2020 @ 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Boardroom, Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research
Suite 2150
Dahdaleh Bldg, 88 Pond Rd
YorkU Keele Campus
Humanitarianism in the Anthropocene: Exploring Operational & Advocacy Frameworks to Improve Planetary Health @ Boardroom, Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research

Humans are profoundly altering ecosystems which in turn negatively impacts human health and alters the nature of humanitarian emergencies. Consequences include changes in exposure to heat stress, air pollution, infectious disease, extreme weather and natural hazards, as well as increased water scarcity, food insecurity, and population displacement. Recent projections indicate that without urgent significant reduction of carbon emissions, climate change could double the demand for humanitarian assistance in the context of significant existing unmet needs. The health co-benefits — the positive effects on human health — of action to reduce climate-altering pollutants are also well documented.

Global health advocates, and increasingly humanitarians, are calling for urgent action, yet there is little clarity on what that action specifically and practically entails. As a transversal threat, climate change requires humanitarians to redesign current operations and adapt with a resilience approach.

This presentation will share a chronology of game-changing global health moments, case studies, policies, and frameworks. It proposes the first draft of an operational framework and advocacy guidance for climate-resilient humanitarian health organizations and related global health actors.


Carol Devine is Community Scholar at Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York University and Humanitarian Affairs Advisor with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada. She co-leads a project on climate, environment and health for MSF and has contributed to the 2019 and 2018 Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change from a humanitarian perspective. Carol has worked with MSF in Rwanda, East Timor, Peru and South Sudan as humanitarian advisor and was the Canadian liaison for MSF’s Access to Essential Medicines Campaign. She has advocated for access to medicines and for respect for humanitarian principles and law before the Canadian Parliament and the World Trade Organization and has been a speaker at TEDxMontrealWomen, the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness and at the American Geophysical Union Conference in 2018 on plastic pollution, climate change and health.


Image Credit: Sarah Grillo/Axios