ISOS rolling internet conference: in search of sustainability:health (MAR)

16 September 2011

Jointly organised and managed by:

Australia 21 Limited

Nature and Society Forum

Sustainable Population Australia

Health The Focus As Internet Conference Continues

Mar 1, 2003

As Australian state governments struggle to find sufficient funds for hospitals and other health services, a new theme focussing on Human Health and Well-Being opens today in an innovative internet conference on sustainability.

These complement the keynote paper by Professor Tony McMichael of the National Centre for Epidemiological and Population Health already posted on the conference web-site (

McMichael argues that gains in human health and wellbeing have been achieved at the expense of the world’s natural capital, and to a point where humankind is now overloading the biosphere.

“The aggregate impact of human numbers (still growing at a historically remarkable rate) and intensified economic activity, is now greater than the planet’s sources and sinks can accommodate,” he writes.

McMichael proposes that if we make the long term optimisation of the health and wellbeing of the whole population of the planet our central objective, we are likely to get the sustainability settings right, because the damage we are currently doing to the biosphere will otherwise erode the gains we have recently made in human health.

The authors of the new conference papers include other Australian leading thinkers on the topic of health.

Em Professor Bob Douglas, for instance, suggests that as a species we must either rise to McMichael’s challenge or risk withering away.

“Now that our world is globalised and humans are the dominant species, everything is connected to everything else,” he says. “Changing the settings in one area of human endeavour produces potentially detrimental changes in others.

“Part of the problem is that our species currently organises and governs itself from ‘silos’ that are in competition with each other. We are not yet mature enough to recognise that human survival will depend our ability to monitor our planetary ecological niche, deal with global equity and drastically modify our methods of governance.”

This forum has been open for discussion and debate for one month and will continue for another eight. Registrants are free to submit their comments on the web-site. Journalists may access the papers free of charge by phoning Ron D’Souza 02 6288 0823 or by email:

Further information:

Bob Douglas: 0409 233 138

Jenny Goldie: 0401 921 453

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