Planetary health is an approach that emphasises the links between the well-
being of nature and human health. Recognising these interdependencies is
particularly important as the state of nature and nature connection are dete-
riorating significantly. Indeed, the need to improve the state of nature has
been recognised internationally, for example at the United Nations Biodiver-
sity Conference in Montreal in December 2022. The positive impact of
nature on our health is increasingly supported by research.
This memorandum highlights the interdependencies between human
health, nature and the environment, and the food system. It is based on a
workshop organised by Sitra in December 2022, where experts were invited
to discuss the different dimensions of planetary health: human health, nature
and the natural environment, and food, which has an obvious link to human
health and that of the natural environment. The workshop discussions have
been analysed and supplemented by current literature.
Overconsumption, biodiversity loss and climate change were identified
as key drivers of change in planetary health. The important role of research,
finance and the data economy were seen as enablers for a better future. The
pervasive use of digitalisation was seen as an overarching goal to break down
silos in advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030)
and planetary health.
The second part of the memorandum contains five in-depth articles by
researchers in the field of planetary health that highlight its multiple dimen-
The linkages between the well-being of humans and nature are complex,
starting with the human microbiota. This is discussed by Tari Haahtela,
Professor Emeritus at the University of Helsinki, and Tiina Laatikainen,
Professor of Health Promotion and Doctor at the University of Eastern Fin-
land, in their article ‘Biodiversity loss also happens within us’.
The well-being of humans and nature are systemically linked. The ecolo-
gical crisis is thus also a crisis of the culture it engenders, which requires us
to change the way we understand the world, writes Kaarlo Hilden, Rector of
the Helsinki University of the Arts, in his article ”The crisis of the mind and
the well-being of nature call for a cultural transition”.
When nature and life on Earth are healthy, sustainable development is
possible. Planetary well-being belongs to all sentient beings, explain Dr Satu
Raussi and Dr Tiina Kauppinen of the Finnish Centre for Animal Welfare
in their article.
Plant health is an essential part of planetary health and life on Earth. In
food production and in forests, ‘Taking care of plant health is a complex
task,’ point out Marja Jalli, Special Researcher at the Natural Resources
Institute Finland, and Jarkko Hantula, Professor of Forest Pathology.
The overconsumption of natural resources is a test of planetary health.
Digitalisation allows us to use natural resources taking into account local
capacity. In the food sector, for example, the data economy is a necessary
enabler, says Liisa Pesonen, a special researcher at the Natural Resources
Institute Finland, in her article ‘Smart agriculture and digitalisation as a basis
for resource wisdom in food production’.
The memorandum concludes with a series of proposals to promote pla-
netary health. We suggest that Finland draw up a national roadmap and
implement a national nature health programme to promote public health.