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Call for Papers: Encyclopedia of Human and Planetary Health

Publication date: 11.12.2020
Author: Faculty of Life Sciences

In recent times, the increase in various human activities has caused a disarray in various natural systems. Such disruptions have intensified over the past decades and have caused changes on the climate, have led to the endangerment of many animals and plant species, and have led to a depletion in the quality of the air, of the water, and even of soils. More so, these changes have adversely affected human health and livelihoods across the world.

Exponential increases in human activities such as in the use of freshwater resources, in motor vehicle use, increased consumption of crops and meat, in fertiliser use, the burning of fossil fuels and the production of non-biodegradable materials such as plastic, have been observed in the past decade. This is accompanied by increases in losses of biodiversity, increased carbon dioxide emissions, ocean acidification and loss of natural sources such as tropical forests, among others. Furthermore, pollution has reduced the air quality in many parts of the globe, posing major health threats.

Whereas the development model of continuous industrial growth followed in the past has led to an improvement in lives in rich countries, such improvements have been achieved with a continuous damage to the environment and, inter alia, to the health and wellbeing of humans. Such damages – including the emerging of new pandemics related to disruptions in natural systems – are likely to continue in the future.

The complexities of the inter-relations here outlined suggest that the concept of planetary health, being discussed today,  needs to be complemented by the addition of the human component to it, hence the term “human and planetary health”, the subject of this book.

The concept of Human and Planetary Health departs from the view that whereas human activities have caused significant biophysical changes (e.g. climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, changes in the natural cycles, changes in land use and resource depletion), it is a mistake to believe that only the physical environment has suffered. On the contrary. Human health has also been negatively influenced by them. Indeed,  the rapid deterioration of environmental conditions has substantially increased the burden on human health by affecting nutrition, fostering the spread of infectious disease and non-communicable diseases, increasing home displacement and conflict and  affecting mental health, among others. This background serves to outline the need for a publication on Human and Planetary Health.

The proposed Encyclopedia on Human and Planetary Health will focus on demonstrating how planetary health may be pursued, with an emphasis on humans and on human influences. This which will follow on the success of the "Encyclopedia of Sustainability in Higher Education" which is a "living edition" and the "Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals" (, the world´s largest editorial project on sustainable development ever undertaken.

The Encyclopedia on Human and Planetary Health will focus on:

  1. Outlining which human activities influence or disturb natural systems
  2. Describing the health impacts of environmental problems to human health
  3. Illustrating some of the measures which may be deployed to change current trends (e.g. reductions in resource consumption)
  4. Showcasing tested solutions to reduce human influences on planetary health

Other related themes may also be accepted. The publication will be part of the world’s leading peer-reviewed book series on matters related to sustainable development: This will be a high-impact, high citations piece. The peer-reviewed nature of the publication means that it officially counts as a publication output for promotion and tenure purposes.

The editorial team is now asking for expressions of interest, consisting of a 200 words abstract, along with the full contact details of the authors. Interested authors are warmly encouraged to contact the editors and seek advice. The deadline for submissions of abstracts is the 20th January 2021. Full papers are due by 15th April 2021. The book is expected to be published in late 2021. Abstracts should be sent by the above deadline to: Further details on submissions and the format to be followed will be discussed with the authors whose abstracts have been accepted.

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