The 2020 SHIFT Annual Report

We’re proud to highlight key accomplishments of 2020 here.

Since its inception in 2013, SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow) has evolved into a convening space for natural allies to address issues of common concern related to conservation. Topics we’ve explored include the outdoor recreation / conservation partnership (2015); the relationship between outdoor recreation and public lands (2016); the business case for public lands (2017); the connection between public lands and public health (2018); and the business case for nature as medicine (2019).

Making the business case for nature as medicine allowed us to highlight one of conservation’s greatest opportunities. Public health as an ecosystem service is a nonpartisan issue that has the potential to revolutionize our appreciation for both public and planetary health. By championing the importance of nature to health outcomes, we’re able to make implicit demands for its protection.

The future of medicine in the US will focus on changing patient behavior, which contributes up to 40% of health and wellness. Social determinants of health — conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play — are drivers of a wide range of health risks and outcomes as well as levers for cost savings. Nature is one of those drivers, but its importance has yet to be fully realized.

Following the successful execution of The 2019 SHIFT Summit, in December 2019, The Center for Jackson Hole voted to refocus our mission on the advancement and promotion of nature as a social determinant of health. We did so because we believe an irrefutable case for the health benefits of nature represents the strongest argument we can make for nature itself—at a point when that argument needs to be made emphatically and unequivocally.

Then came March.

COVID-19 laid bare the vast systemic inequities of our country—inequities that extend from the environment to the foundations of our infrastructure to individual health outcomes. #BlackLivesMatter placed our institutionalized racism in stark relief. Never has it been so abundantly clear: there is no separation between social justice, environmental justice and public health.

The traumas of institutional racism are not new. The events of the past year, however, revealed their depth and breadth to all Americans, and created an opportunity to advance demands for equitable and inclusive access to nature’s health benefits for all of us.

Over the past twelve months, we’ve used three main vehicles to do so:

  • The Health and Nature Webinar Series, which brought together the champions of the health-and-nature movement to deepen our understanding of the public health benefits of time spent outside
  • The Emerging Leaders Program, which prepared a diverse cross-section of early career leaders to help develop our work at SHIFT and in America
  • The SHIFT Summit, which focused on equity, access and the mental health benefits of time outside

The three pillars of our work are science, economics and storytelling. In 2020, we relied on them to:

  • Develop the Evidence Base: Aggregate, support and promote the evidence for the health benefits of outdoor recreation in a manner that incentivizes both public and private entities to adopt nature as a health-care intervention strategy
  • Build the Business Case: Develop economic arguments, tools and sustainable revenue models that will lead corporate, governmental and nonprofit industries to invest in nature-rich interventions
  • Create the Narrative: Develop a unified narrative around the health benefits of time outside that empowers stakeholders across sectors to promote them using a similar language and lexicon

Over the past twelve months, our efforts fostered, incubated and launched a number of key initiatives in support of our mission. With all of our work, our goal has been to create an incontrovertible argument for the importance of nature to health outcomes, the imperative of equitable access to those benefits, and the connection between nature’s healing powers and its protection.

Our efforts in 2020 allowed us to advance that goal. In the midst of social upheaval and a global pandemic, we were able to champion both public and planetary health across all of our platforms.

With your support, we look forward to continuing to build upon this foundation for years to come.

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