Wade Davis, Sylvie Rokab, Chris Golden, Dr. Frederick Foote to keynote SHIFT

The 2019 SHIFT Festival is convening industry leaders around the advancement of nature as a social determinant of health—an invaluable addition to the movement to protect the natural world.

As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social determinants of health are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. They are increasingly recognized by government, agencies and public health officials as invaluable factors in overall health outcomes.

Nature as a social determinant of health is scientifically supported by leading researchers, many of whom will be at SHIFT. They will be joined by healthcare executives, physicians, land managers and conservation advocates in a working conference that promotes the public health benefits of outdoor recreation with business models, methodologies and strategies.

Over the course of three days, stakeholders from complementary sectors will participate in intimate working sessions that advance the health benefits of nature in mainstream society.

Complementing the 2019 Schedule will be a lineup of keynote speakers at the forefront of the “nature as medicine” movement. Their presentations will provide a global context for the daytime programming. 

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researcher Christopher Golden has a paper coming out on the health impacts of overfishing and how climate change may impact fish populations and health. He is pictured in the Harvard University Center for the Environment. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Chris Golden, PhD, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and an ecologist and epidemiologist who studies the effects of global environmental trends on human health at Harvard University, will open The 2019 SHIFT Festival on October 16 with a presentation on planetary health and human wellbeing.

Dr. Golden ties public health to the protection of the natural world. 

“The rapid and global degradation of our planet is not just affecting biodiversity,” he says. “It is causing massive downstream effects on human health, too. The only solution is to heal the planet, so that we can heal ourselves.”

Filmmaker Sylvie Rokab will present her film, Love Thy Nature, on Oct. 16.

Later that evening, Sylvie Rokab will screen her award-winning film, Love Thy Nature, at The Center for the Arts. Narrated by Liam Neeson, the film takes viewers on a cinematic journey through the beauty and intimacy of our relationship with the natural world, demonstrating, as Rokab points out, that “a renewed connection with nature is key both to our health and the health of our planet.”  

Dr. Frederick Foote, Project Officer for The Epidaurus Project, will discuss nature as a social determinant of health and the holistic measurements that can be used to document nature’s effects.

On Oct. 17, Dr. Frederick Foote, will present on The Epidaurus Project, which seeks to scientifically demonstrate the positive impact of encounters with nature on human health—and then use the objective evidence to advance the case for increasing community green space and making exposure to nature a therapeutic mainstay.

“Exposure to nature is an important social determinant of health, says Dr. Foote. “A large body of evidence shows that nature promotes health and resilience, and prevents physical and mental illness, in human populations.” 

Wade Davis.

Closing out the 2019 SHIFT Festival, Wade Davis, an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 1999 to 2013, will speak about reciprocity, the concept of interdependent relations between people and the natural world that underscores the inextricable link between planetary health and public health.

“SHIFT provides a unique and truly inspiring opportunity to bring different perspectives and disciplines together in one place,” said Florence Williams author of The Nature Fix. “No one else is doing this in the nature/health arena—and it is critically needed.”

Wallace J Nichols, PhD, Senior Fellow at The Center for the Blue Economy and author of the New York Times bestseller, Blue Mind, agrees. SHIFT, he says, “is the point of the spear on a trans-disciplinary conversation. The goal is to make ‘nature as medicine’ common knowledge for those who need it most. That’s a world-changing recipe.”

Tickets for The 2019 SHIFT Festival may be purchased here

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