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Planetary Health for a Planetary Emergency Symposium

Human activity is pushing ecological limits to a breaking point, and climate change is a fundamental threat to human life.

Now more than ever we need to draw clear associations between climate change and health, develop critical problem-solving interventions, and advocate for climate action that advances wellbeing for all. How do we do this while holding a critical view of the systems and structures which have led us into this climate catastrophe, including the ideologies of colonialism and capitalism that underpin the modern era? How do we advance effective and equitable solutions for planetary health that work against these systems and structures instead of upholding them?

This symposium on critical planetary health brings together scholars from the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research and across York University who work at the intersection of climate change and health, to discuss the potentials of planetary health as a driver of just climate action. This event will also launch the Dahdaleh Institute Planetary Health Research Council which supports a collaborative research community of faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students committed to planetary health research at York University and beyond. 

This symposium will be held in-person at York University (Keele campus). The event will also be streamed on Zoom.


All times are listed in the Eastern Time zone

10:00 Introduction
10:20Panel 1: Water  
This panel explores the role water plays at the confluence of environmental and human health. Speakers will discuss efforts to support vital biological and social functions of water in the face of our rapidly changing climate and how such efforts might be positioned to work towards more just, sustainable, and integrated water management.
NoonCatered lunch
13:00Panel 2: Land  
This panel examines the role of land in achieving planetary health, taking a wide view across issues of food security, extractivism, urbanization, and conservation. This includes examples of how land is inherently interconnected with people and the environment and how access to land and tenure rights are themselves a determinant of human and environmental health.
14:45Panel 3: Air  
This last panel addresses how air is brought into our approaches to planetary health, drawing together a range of fields related to emissions reduction, human well-being, air pollution, and climate adaptation. Speakers will consider how air pollution disproportionately impacts low income and marginalized populations as well as the climate policy synergies of tackling air pollution that both damages health and impairs ecosystems.
16:15Closing comments
16:30 Reception


Byomkesh Talukder is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Global Health at Florida International University. In this role, he teaches courses on planetary and global health and is also engaged in significant research projects concerning planetary health across continents, including Asia, Africa, and North America. Before stepping into his current position, Dr. Talukder was an Inaugural Planetary Health Research Fellow at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York University. At York, he spearheaded research on planetary health, health impacts of climate change, and the sustainability of food and agriculture systems utilizing systems thinking tools such as multi-criteria decision analysis, system dynamics, agent-based modeling, and index. He also has two decades of interdisciplinary field research and education experience.

Deborah McGregor is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice and a Professor cross-appointed with Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Environment and Urban Change at York University. She is at the forefront of Indigenous environmental justice research as well as Indigenous research theory and practice. Her work has focused on Indigenous knowledge systems and their various applications in diverse contexts including water and environmental governance, environmental justice, climate justice, and Indigenous research theory and methodologies. She spends a great deal of time engaging students in her work and supporting them in their own, with significant focus in the following: Indigenous climate justice, food security/sovereignty, Indigenous legal orders/governance, water justice/governance, Indigenous knowledges systems, rights of nature/legal personhood, conservation and sustainability.

Imran Ali is a Research Fellow in Global Health and Humanitarianism at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research. He is an aid worker and academic focused on humanitarian challenges at the intersection of environment and public health. He has worked in emergency responses and led operational research with Médecins Sans Frontières and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in South Sudan, Pakistan, Jordan, Rwanda, and Uganda. Dr. Ali has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, where he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Development Impact Lab and the Blum Center for Developing Economies. Dr. Ali received his doctorate in environmental engineering from the University of Guelph and his bachelor’s in engineering from Queen’s University. 

Sapna Sharma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at York University and York Research Chair in Global Change Biology. Her research highlights how lakes worldwide respond to climate change, including rapid ice loss, warming water temperatures, degrading water quality, and changing fish distributions. Her research has led to an induction to the Royal Society of Canada – College of New Scholars, named one of Canada's Top 10 Women Water Scientists, a prestigious Ontario Government Early Researcher Award, and York University President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award. She is a dedicated science communicator and is the founder of SEEDS, an outreach program for refugees. For her commitment to science outreach, she was invited to serve as Vice-Chair for the Royal Canadian Institute for Science and awarded the Canadian Council of University Biology Chairs Science Promotion Prize. 

profile of young woman
Moderated by:

Caroline Diana Duncan is a PhD candidate in civil engineering with a strong focus on optimizing drinking water in the Arctic using participatory approaches to system dynamics modelling. She is also a Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholar. As part of the Lassonde School of Engineering, and under the guidance of Prof. Stephanie Gora, her research seeks to understand the complex factors that affect the quality and accessibility of drinking water in the Arctic using an interdisciplinary approach. Through her research, Caroline will work closely with the Municipality of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, collaborating with community members, government, and NGO stakeholders involved with drinking water from source to tap. Through this collaboration, a model will be developed to test treatment and policy interventions to optimize drinking water safety. 

Dayna N. Scott is an Associate Professor and York Research Chair in Environmental Law & Justice with Osgoode Hall Law School at York University where she is also cross appointed with the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. She is a Co-Director of Osgoode’s Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic and a Co-Coordinator of the joint MES/JD program. Her research interests focus on contestation over extraction; exercises of Indigenous jurisdiction over lands and resources; the distribution of pollution burdens affecting marginalized communities and vulnerable populations; gender and environmental health; and the justice dimensions of the transition to a greener economy. Professor Scott is currently the co-Principal Investigator, along with Professor Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark at the University of Victoria, of a SSHRC New Frontiers in Research Fund project called “Jurisdiction Back: Infrastructure Beyond Extractivism.”  

profile of man standing

James Stinson is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Planetary Health Education at York University, cross appointed to the Faculty of Education and the Dahdaleh Institute of Global Health Research. He is a cultural, environmental and public anthropologist with a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Toronto. His research explores intersections of Indigenous-led conservation, digital media and technologies, and nature-based recreation in efforts to preserve biodiversity and promote planetary health. Building on over a decade of engaged research with Indigenous Maya communities and conservation organizations in Belize, his current research examines how digital surveillance technologies and artificial intelligence – including the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) – are impacting environmental governance and shifting relations of power in and around parks and protected areas.

Raphael Aguiar is a PhD Candidate in the Health Policy and Equity program at York University and a Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholar. His interests revolve around the design and management of global health programs and interventions and the global health impact of recent patterns of urbanization, the climate crisis, and accelerated human activity. His current research focuses on urban political ecologies of One Health and the governance of antimicrobial resistance and other emerging global health threats. Raphael has over a decade of experience in the field in Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Middle East leading projects in both humanitarian and development settings, including with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and at the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordination Office in Cameroon.

Sarah Rotz is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. Her academic and organizing work is grounded in environmental justice, with a focus on land and food systems. Her research aims to situate political economic processes within a lens of settler colonial patriarchy and racial capitalism. Sarah’s work has focused on topics ranging from the political economy and ecology of farmland tenure and critical perspectives of big data in agriculture, to the ways that settler colonial logics and gendered narratives uphold extractive practices and relationships on the land. Her recent work draws from decolonial, feminist and community-based methodologies with ongoing community-based work with various organizations and campaigns including food and farmer’s associations, fossil fuel divestment, as well as climate justice and food sovereignty movements.

Moderated by:

Nilanjana (Nell) Ganguli is a PhD student in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University. She is also a Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholar. Her doctoral research focuses on modelling the gendered health impacts of climate change in Malawi using a combination of community participatory methods and soft systems methodologies. Nell worked in the mining sector for six years in West Africa, where she was involved in multiple facets of the business, including HR, communications, and corporate social responsibility. Nell is passionate about global health equity and gender equality and aspires to develop interventions to promote male participation in women’s roles in climate change adaptation. She is currently working as the project manager for the Dahdaleh Institute project, Complex Adaptive Modelling of the Health Impacts of Climate Change in Malawi

Cora Young is an Associate Professor and the Rogers Chair in Chemistry at York University. Her research group focuses on the development and application of new analytical techniques to increase our understanding of issues in air quality, climate change, and pollutant transport. Her team has been funded by numerous agencies, including the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council and Environment and Climate Change Canada. She has received several awards, including the 2022 Chemical Institute of Canada Environment Division Early Career Award, as well as being named to Chemical and Engineering News’ “Talented 12” in 2019. Work from her group has been featured by numerous media outlets, including CBC (Nature of Things, Quirks and Quarks), CTV, and the BBC.

Eric B. Kennedy is an Associate Professor and area coordinator of the Disaster and Emergency Management program at York University. His work focuses on the social dimensions of hazards and emergencies. His research group - the Collaboration on Emergency Management, Preparedness, and Policy Research - helps advance our understanding of decision-making, policy, expertise, and research methods in disaster contexts. He conducts extensive work in the context of wildfire management, exploring how communities and responders can better prepare for a changing climate and increasing fire load. He has also led a national COVID-19 monitoring project, tracking the public attitudes, risk perceptions, and knowledge related to the pandemic. In all his work, he focuses on producing research that addresses real-world needs, supports government decision-making, and helps create a safer and more equitable world.

Jean-Thomas Tremblay is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at York University and holds graduate appointments in Humanities, English, Social and Political Thought, and Science and Technology Studies. His interdisciplinary research and teaching span the environmental humanities, sexuality studies, literary studies, and film studies, and concentrate on the overlapping environmental, economic, and political crises of the 1970s to the present while recovering the longer histories of nature writing and the life sciences. Dr. Tremblay’s first monograph, Breathing Aesthetics (Duke University Press, 2022), investigates aesthetic responses to a “crisis in breathing” marked by the intensified pollution, weaponization, and monetization of the air. Breathing Aesthetics contends that breathing has emerged as a medium that configures embodiment and experience as effects of biopolitical and necropolitical forces—forces that optimize certain lives and trivialize or attack others.

Moderated by:

Hillary Birch is a PhD student in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University, where she is a SSHRC doctoral fellow. She is also a Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholar. Her PhD explores how projects of global health intersect with processes of urbanization in Lusaka, Zambia, specifically how water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions shape flows of water in the city and change its quality. She aims to support the execution of WASH projects that both improve immediate health outcomes and deliver safe WASH services for all. This includes ensuring WASH interventions support plans, institutions, and infrastructures that promote climate resilience. Hillary has previously studied the urban governance of Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia, and she has worked in various roles in global health and knowledge mobilization.

Lina Brand Correa is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University. Her areas of research and teaching interest have “travelled” through the whole energy chain: from exploring issues of energy extraction to exploring issues of why we use energy in the way we do. She finds the potential for political economy and wellbeing frameworks to unlock alternative routes to decoupling beyond technological fixes and efficiency improvements particularly promising. Such frameworks involve considering what energy demand is for and critically analysing the social-technical systems that influence our relationship with energy. They also involve questioning how and why we consume the things we do, including energy, and to reconsider whether our current way of things doing enables or hinders or wellbeing.


Register below and join us on Friday, November 24 at 10 a.m.

Thank you for your interest in this event.

Please find the recap and recording here.


Friday, November 24, 2023


10:00 am - 4:30 pm

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Friday, November 24, 2023
  • Time: 10:00 am - 4:30 pm


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