Planetary Health: How to Unleash a Just and Resilient Post-Pandemic World
Nicole de Paula
Planetary Health, both as a scientific field and a social movement, is rapidly growing. While a proliferation of research projects and initiatives are dynamically evolving, it remains to be further explored how the planetary health can become an empowering narrative for policymakers and business leaders. Covid-19, which has devastated economies and impoverished millions, needs to be viewed as a turning point. This lecture is based on Dr Nicole de Paula's current book project that presents the science behind planetary health and dwells on the opportunities to expand this field into actionable recommendations for decision-makers. Thinking forward, this work presents an innovative way to build long-term social and ecological resilience and presents an empowering new roadmap for a safer and more just post-Covid world.
The Great Plague Panzootic: The Third Plague Pandemic Reconsidered
The third plague pandemic (1894–1959) was the first pandemic of Yersinia pestis to be understood through framings of rodents as the principal hosts of the disease, and rats as the global spreaders of the pathogen. This lecture urges us to move beyond anthropocentric framings of the pandemic so as to see it as a panzootic: a global outbreak of plague that interlinked diverse rodent species and populations across the globe. The lecture will argue that this was fostered, on the one hand, through an unprecedented global circulation of the plague pathogen, and on the other hand, through the circulation and implementation of anti-rodent measures carried out by humans that exposed rats and other rodents to techniques and technologies of eradication and separation on an unprecedented scale.
Plague Ecologies in the Ottoman Empire: Rethinking the Second Pandemic (ca.1340s–ca.1940s)
The majority of studies on the Black Death and its recurring plagues—collectively referred to as the Second Pandemic—follow a human-centric model for explaining the emergence, spread, and disappearance of the pandemic, mainly informed by the European experience. Drawing on research on plague in the Ottoman Empire, this talk will introduce new possibilities of thinking about the pandemic by emphasizing the importance of climate, animals, and disease ecologies of the wider Mediterranean world, with a view to bringing latest scientific studies in conversation with historical sources. As the longest continuous manifestation of plague in recorded human history, the Ottoman experience of plague (from ca.1340s to ca.1940s—600 years of uninterrupted plagues) allows us to question, re-conceptualize, and unsettle current historical and scientific wisdom about past plagues.
Nicole de Paula (IASS Potsdam)
Dr. Nicole de Paula is the inaugural Klaus Töpfer Sustainability Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany. For more than a decade, she has been globally connecting policymakers and researchers to create a public understanding of key issues related to sustainability, the environment, and public health. Previously of her work in Germany, she was the executive director of a think-tank in Bangkok, Thailand, hosted by Mahidol University at the Faculty of Public Health focused on the operationalization of the One Health approach in Southeast Asia and Latin America. She is the founder of the Women Leaders for Planetary Health and co-founder of an interdisciplinary research group on Planetary Health at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.
Dr. Nicole de Paula holds a PhD in International Relations from Sciences Po Paris and has been consulting with several international organizations under the UN system on themes related to global health, climate change, biodiversity, chemicals, financial and urban affairs. In the past, she has also been the French Embassy fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC and a researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science as part of the Global Public Policy Network (GPPN). Since 2012, Dr. Nicole de Paula has also been a team leader and writer for the reputable Earth Negotiations Bulletin, published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Her most recent research focuses on decision making and international cooperation in the post-Covid-19 world, as well as digitalization and sustainability. In 2020, Dr. Nicole de Paula successfully concluded the executive course "Blockchain: Technologies and Applications for Business" at Berkeley Haas School of Business, University of California. She is currently the review editor for the journal Frontiers in Public Health (Planetary Health) and for the Brazilian Journal of International Politics.
As a pioneer in the field named planetary health, she champions the socio-economic advancement of women through environmental conservation and public health policies to make the UN Sustainable Development Goals a reality by 2030.
In 2020, Dr. Nicole de Paula was appointed as one of the Scientific Commissioners of the prestigious Pathfinder Initiative, chaired by former Prime Minister Helen Clark and Prof. Andy Haines. This initiative was launched at the UN “Race to Zero” Dialogues and supports progress towards a healthy, zero-carbon society with the support of influential partners, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network; C40-Cities; Wellcome Trust Foundation; OECD; and The Lancet. Finally, she is currently a member of the global committee preparing the global meeting of the Planetary Health Alliance, to be held in Brazil in April 2021. Originally from Brazil, she speaks Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish.
Christos Lynteris (University of St. Andrews)
Christos Lynteris is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews, UK. A medical anthropologist investigating epistemological, biopolitical, and aesthetic aspects of infectious disease epidemics, he is the author of The Spirit of Selflessness in Maoist China (2012), Ethnographic Plague (2016), Human Extinction and the Pandemic Imaginary (2019) and co-author with Lukas Engelmann of Sulphuric Utopias: The History of Maritime Sanitation (2020). He edited and co-edited the volumes Histories of Post-Mortem Contagion (2018), Plague and the City (2019), The Anthropology of Epidemics (2019), and Framing Animals as Epidemic Villains (2019). He was the Principal Investigator for the European Research Council funded project "Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic" (Cambridge 2012–2018; St Andrews, 2017–2018) and is currently the Principal Investigator of the Wellcome Investigator Award funded project "The Global War Against the Rat and the Epistemic Emergence of Zoonosis" (St Andrews 2019–2024).
Nükhet Varlık (University of South Carolina)
Nükhet Varlık is Associate Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and Rutgers University–Newark. She is a historian of the Ottoman Empire interested in disease, medicine, and public health. She is the author of the bookPlague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World: The Ottoman Experience, 1347–1600 (2015) and editor of the volumePlague and Contagion in the Islamic Mediterranean (2017).
Her new book project, “Empire, Ecology, and Plague: Rethinking the Second Pandemic (ca.1340s–ca.1940s),” examines the 600-year Ottoman plague experience in a global ecological context. In conjunction with this research, she is involved in developing the Black Death Digital Archive and contributing to multidisciplinary research projects that incorporate perspectives from paleogenetics (ancient DNA research in particular), bioarcheology, disease ecology, and climate science into historical inquiry. She is the editor of the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association (JOTSA).
Crisis and Capacity: Perspectives in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Months have passed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. People have experienced the effects of the virus’ rapid global spread: the politicization of medicine, worldwide shortages of and bidding wars for protective equipment, disputes and uneven public health messaging about prevention and treatments, disproportionate distributions of health risks in populations, and mass mortality. While many issues related to the Covid-19 outbreak are dealt with by scientists and health practitioners—such as the search for treatments and cures—other concerns command the expertise of scholars in the humanities and social sciences.
Developing from the MPIWG's History of Science ON CALL video project, the Institute’s Colloquium 2020/21 therefore facilitates conversations around how humanities and social sciences scholars might deliberately or inadvertently form a long view of critical contemporary issues, aiming to:
Normalize reflexive intellectual discussions about challenging topics about inequalities such as race or gender
Connect to other dialogues within and beyond Berlin about plural histories and sociologies of crises
Ultimately, the program seeks to bring to the fore various insights into local, regional, and international cooperation and academic work prompted by Covid-19.
The theme of the 4th Planetary Health Annual Meeting is Planetary health for all: Bridging communities to achieve the Great Transition. Each day of the meeting is grounded in a diverse theme and objective, which include: highlighting collective planetary health values; cross-pollinating planetary health knowledge, education, and technology; showcasing change-making science, stories, solutions, and communities; and building systemic solutions across economics, governance, and civil society.
March 23, 2021
Institute's Colloquium: Environments and Ecologies of Transmission