Aspiration Statement for the Next Generation

This Blog, Aspiration Statement for the Next Generation, is supported by the One Health EcoHealth 2016 Congress. The views expressed do not represent any official view or position of the Congress. 

  • We are very pleased to be to able to support this Blog as a way for Congress delegates and others to be able to engage on the important themes of the Congress.
  • We welcome and encourage dialogue and deliberation among our diverse community of researchers, policy makers and practitioners who are working towards more integrated approaches and effective responses to complex global health challenges. 
  • We ask that people contributing to the Blog do so in the spirit of mutual trust and respect. Any offensive comments will be removed by the moderator.
  • We express out thanks to Dr Neville Ellis for moderating the Blog. All queries about this Blog should be directed to Neville at


Dear colleagues,

Please find below the Aspirational Statement of the OHEH 2016 Congress developed by Emerging Scholars and Practitioners working at the intersection of human, animal, environmental and planetary health. A huge thank you to all of you involved in the development of this document. We have produced a truly remarkable, timely and (dare I say?) aspirational piece that is reflective of who we are and what we want our diverse communities to be. Though we have reached an important milestone in the development of this Statement, this is only the beginning. The Aspirational Statement before you is a ‘living document’. It will require continual updating, critiquing and deliberation as our communities of inquiry and practice continue to evolve in response to the deep sustainability challenges of our time. Though we are many, our aspirations are the same. I am therefore confident that we can move forward together as a collection of communities made stronger by our diversity. 

Yours Truly,

Dr. Neville Ellis



OHEH 2016

Communities of inquiry and practice towards a healthy future

Prepared by Emerging Scholars and Practitioners on the behalf of the multiple communities of inquiry and practice working at the converging intersection of human, animal, environmental and planetary health



The OHEH 2016 Aspirational Statement sets out the aspirations of Emerging Scholars and Practitioners located within communities of inquiry and practice working at the intersection of human, animal, environmental and planetary health. It is towards a collective community capable of imagining and manifesting a radically sustainable future to which we aspire. The aspirations outlined here represent the values and principles we feel are needed to orientate our efforts as a collective community towards this task. At the heart of this document is a firm belief that out of diversity come strength and resilience, and that a collective community drawn from diversity is stronger and more effective than the sum of its individual parts.


Why now?

In recent years new fields of inquiry have emerged recognising the complex connections that exist between human, animal, environmental and planetary health. Fields such as Ecohealth, OneHealth, Planetary Health, Ecological Public Health, Future Health, Environmental Health Justice, Environmental and Occupational Health, Human Ecology, Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development, amongst multiple others, are representative of the growing ecology-health nexus. The expansion of these fields speaks to a growing recognition of the complex interdependencies that exist between the social, physical and planetary dimensions of heath, giving rise to a convergence of ecologically informed health-related research and practice. We understand that such ways of conceptualising health are rooted in ancient and diverse ways of knowing. This is outlined in key United Nations documents such the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

That such a convergence is occurring now is, perhaps, to be expected. Environmental science indicates that we will be the first generation of human beings to knowingly step into a new geological era. Receding before us is the Holocene – an 11,000 thousand-year-old period of extraordinary environmental stability that gave rise to societies of increasing social complexity. Looming in front of us is the Anthropocene – the era of humankind. The Anthropocene metaphor comes at a time when human influence upon the Earth rivals natural processes in shaping the evolutionary trajectory of all life. We recognise that our collective actions have fundamentally disrupted the biophysical processes that underpin ecological stability, pushing earth systems beyond a safe operating space for humanity and into an uncertain and largely unknowable future.

This ‘field convergence’ will present opportunities and challenges for scholarly and practice-based communities alike. In response, the purpose of this Aspirational Statement is to chart a direction for our respective fields and communities of practice in the context of field convergence, based on our shared goals, values and aspirations. The aim is not to deliver a ‘roadmap’ with a specific destination; but rather to articulate a broad set of principles to help us to work to create a more equitable, positive, healthy and sustainable future.

This Aspirational Statement is about ‘transformational change.’ Current ways of doing health research and practice need to evolve if we are to address the major human-environmental health issues confronting us in the Anthropocene era. In order to disrupt existing paradigms that have produced many of the challenges associated with the Anthropocene, we believe that we must occupy new and uncomfortable spaces, and commit to bridging disciplinary and practice-based divides to innovate and activate a global consciousness for collective action. Moreover, we hope this Aspirational Statement will inspire a new generation of scholars to take up the complex challenges before them, while encouraging our Elders to provide the mentorship that is supportive of the aspirations outlined in this document. We believe the following principles and values are fundamental to these change efforts.

Who for?

This document is for anyone interested in and inspired by connections between animal, human, environmental and planetary health.

Our Process

A group of emerging scholars and practitioners was motivated by their Elders to develop an aspirational statement speaking to the increasing convergence of actors, institutions and disciplines converging on issues of human, animal, environmental and planetary health. Prior and throughout the OHEH 2016 Congress an invitation was extended to delegates to articulate what they aspire to achieve in their work, which was subsequently shared with global communities operating in this space. This is a living document to be revisited as our collective communities continue to evolve.

Aspiration 1: Negotiating Shared Identity

We aspire to be a collective community that is courageous and passionate. As individuals and communities respectful of our diverse identities, we recognise that we are connected to each other and to the places that nourish us. From this understanding we aspire to connect across our differences. By listening and hearing from people, places and living systems fundamental to our collective wellbeing, we will continue to negotiate a shared sense of identity.

Aspiration 2: Leveraging Shared Values

We aspire to foster and act upon our shared values that include equity (intergenerational, intra-generational and inter-species), diversity, openness, responsibility, accountability and respect for the people, places and processes that sustain life. Our values drive our actions, shape our ways of knowing, and inform who we are.

Aspiration 3: Strengthening Collaboration

We aspire to address wicked social-ecological problems through collaboration. We want to create opportunities to collaborate and to reach out to others who share our aspirations. We want to facilitate understanding across cultural and community divides, and to cultivate a common language from which we may work together. We are interested in creative ways to achieve transformational change, drawing on science, technology, the arts and diverse ways of knowing/being. We recognise that power naturally arises in our collaborative work and commit to acknowledging and naming that power.

Aspiration 4: Integrating Knowledges

We aspire to embrace the complexity of our world while recognising that our knowledge is only ever partial and open to interpretation. We recognise multiple legitimate ways of knowing and we aspire to harness their creative and transformative potential. Our knowledge is informed by our lived experiences tied to the places in which we live, play and love, as much as it is by globalised ways of knowing.







  1. Thanks to the drafters of this aspiration statement. Some readers may be interested in my recent paper “Sounding the alarm: Health in the Anthropocene”, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health ( It’s open access.

    The paper argues, in part, that the catastrophe in Syria is a case study of regional overload; without urgent action worse is to unfold. It also describes a new network called Health-Earth.

  2. Thanks to the drafters of this aspiration statement.

    Some readers may be interested in my recent paper (open access) called “Sounding the alarm: Health in the Anthropocene”, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 13, 665; see

    The abstract reads, in part:

    “Planetary transformation has enormous implications for human health, many of which are deeply disturbing, especially in low-income settings. A few health consequences of the Anthropocene have been partially recognized, including within environmental epidemiology, but their long-term consequences remain poorly understood and greatly under-rated. For example Syria could be a “sentinel” population, giving a glimpse to a much wider dystopian future.”

    The abstract also mentions “Health-Earth” – a research network, co-founded in 2014, which seeks, with other groups, to catalyse a powerful curative response by the wider health community.

  3. This is a timely and important opportunity as we increasingly see more actors, organizations, disciplines working at the interface of human/animal/ecosystem health.

    i agree wholeheartedly with the comments above and especially appreciate the need to attend to issues of equity and justice (particularly for global indigenous populations in a time of truth and reconciliation) as rooted in the value of human compassion.

    Kerry Arabena had some compelling words on this topic at this morning’s plenary. To echo her contribution, I think a core task here is to recognize that as soon as we name what we belong to, we also articulate where we do not belong. As the field convergence continues, our shared planet and heritage need to be at the fore of building solidarity and encouraging thoughtful, collective action. Looking forward to continuing to engage in this process throughout the Congress.

  4. At this time, it is hard to avoid a sense of being overwhelmed by the challenges our global community faces and an utter lack of inspired leadership to address these. An aspirational statement is thus all the more important for providing energy and motivation to move forward. As stated in the last paragraph of the text presented, there are opportunities in the uncertainty. Because the status quo is disappearing, space is opening for new perspectives and new paradigms and it is up to us to capitalize these emerging opportunities. With regards to the question: What values, principles or ethics ought to guide the kind of transformative change required to live more sustainably and justly? I would emphasize the need for compassion to ourselves and environment. Another value or principal I would stand behind is justice (social justice, environmental justice, etc.)

  5. Parks Victoria, Australia is very pleased to be a supporter of the One Health EcoHealth Congress 2016. We welcome and encourage dialogue and action around the interdependency between people and nature and environmental health and human health. Following is our contribution to the Congress Aspirational Statement;

    Healthy nature and green space sustains life, livelihoods and liveability.

    There is growing consensus, supported by science, that access to nature and green space has positive impacts on peoples physical, mental, spiritual and social health. This has been known and practised by indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

    The prevalence of non-communicable disease such as diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, depression and anxiety are among the fastest growing health burdens in both developed and developing countries; likewise increasing urbanisation and changing lifestyles has resulted in more people spending less time in nature, doing less physical activity, and becoming more stressed and socially isolated.

    Programs such as Healthy Parks Healthy People highlight the power of nature to sustain people’s health and wellbeing; reconnection with nature though access to parks can be a highly cost effective solution to contribute to global health issues such as accelerating non-communicable disease.

    There is an increasing need for the health, conservation and urban planning sectors to build stronger partnerships and alliances at the global, regional, national and local scales to recognise and maximise the opportunities that nature and green space have for improving community health and wellbeing.

  6. “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.” E.O. Wilson

    The most important health and sustainability problems confronting humankind and our limited habitable space can only be solved by using a transdisciplinary lens to bring sharp focus on the intersection of seemingly disparate problems. Our points of intervention need to simultaneously reduce burden of disease, improve quality of natural space and equity in ecosystem service distribution. Re-examining history and challenging the established dogmas of public health, conservation and economics will help us forge transdisciplinary approaches to provide elegant, sustainable solutions to our greatest afflictions.


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