Posts

Public Health Perspectives on Sustainable Diets

Coursera offers this excellent 7-hour intro-level class from Johns Hopkins (no charge so long as you don’t need the certificate). In addition to the easy-to-follow lectures and short assessments, the class offers downloadable reports and other resources, and enables you to download the videos and slides as well.

Overview

What we eat and how we produce that food have significant effects on human health and the sustainability of our planet. But what is a ‘sustainable’ diet? A sustainable diet, as defined by the FAO, promotes health and well-being and provides food security for the present population while sustaining human and natural resources for future generations. This short course looks at the urgent need to address the sustainability of our food systems, including better understanding the complex relationship between diet and climate change. Learners explore current research on dietary shifts needed in high, middle, and low-income countries to achieve both sustainability and food security goals and discuss evidence-based strategies to promote sustainable diets. This course is offered by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and draws from the graduate-level food systems curriculum at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. You may also be interested in our eight-week flagship Coursera course, “An Introduction to the US Food System: Perspectives from Public Health”.

Introduction to Food Systems Sustainability and Public Health 

Our food system is much more than a supply chain that brings food from the farm to your plate. What is a food system? How can thinking about food as a system help us understand and address the messy overlapping issues of diet, food production, planetary health and climate change? What does ‘sustainability’ mean, in the context of food systems, and is it the same as resilience? How has COVID-19 pandemic amplified the many challenges faced by vulnerable workers and consumers? Roni Neff addresses these questions – and many more – in this opening series of lectures. 

Sustainable Diets and Climate Change

What defines a sustainable diet? Why do sustainable diets matter? And what might sustainable diets look like in the US and around the world? The answers may surprise you. In this engaging and thought-provoking set of lectures, Brent Kim will address these questions and explain recent research that compares the impact of different diets on greenhouse gas emissions and water use across 140 countries. 

Strategies for Advancing Sustainable Diets 

The final week explores sustainable diets through the lens of a public health practitioner and registered dietician. They apply the concept of a sustainable diet to different parts of the world, considering the nutritional needs of different populations and why it is difficult to define a ‘sustainable’ diet for everyone. They share evidence-based strategies for communicating about sustainable diets and how different sectors can play a role in advancing change. 

For FMN members: The course has been submitted to the continuing education calendar for credit. check back for information on approval.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

Find the list, ways to engage, and lots of resources here.

The UN asked musician AY Young to be its only US ambassador on behalf of the 17 SDGs–because he powers all of his concerts with renewable energy.

Plant Trees While You Search the Web, with Ecosia

Ecosia is both a search engine and a social business founded in 2009 after CEO Christian Kroll took a trip around the world.

The idea is that you, as a user of the search engine, plant trees while you search the web.

Ecosia uses the profit they make from search ads to plant trees where they are needed most. As of this writing, Ecosia has planted more than 117 million trees. Yes, they publish their financial reports.

In terms of privacy, Ecosia does not create personal profiles of you based on your search history. They anonymize all searches within one week. In addition, they do not sell data to advertisers.

Here’s a review of the company.

Get the free browser extension and plant trees with every search.

The Environmental Defense Fund’s Yesh Pavlik Slenk Hosts “Degrees,” a Podcast About Sustainability

Six inspiring episodes so far:

Why employees are key for a hopeful future, with Bill Wiehl

Chemical soup: The quest to create a toxic-free marketplace, with Boma Brown-West

Global recycling, career reinvention… and the double life of Vienna Teng, with Cynthia Shih

Tackling trash with data… and turning disappointment into delight, with Chris Kirschner

Climate intrapreneurship: Think big, start small, scale fast!, with Chris Castro

Transforming energy, unlocking change… and Bubba Gump Shrimp, with Steph Speirs

But, hey, start here for a real overview so you can meet the people and the host and the mission.

Join the Next Rare Conversation!

In June, Rare welcomed Sarah Stein Greenberg, Executive Director of Stanford’s d.School, for its first Rare Conversation on innovating for sustainability (43 mins).

In August, they will speak with Robert Frank, Cornell University professor and author of the book, Under the Influence, about the power social forces have for motivating climate-friendly behavior. Dr. Frank will discuss Can Peer Pressure Solve Climate Change?

Thursday August 13, 2020 | 2:00 PM EST
Register here

For FMN members: both talks are on the Continuing Education calendar.

National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering study on Grand Challenges for Environmental Engineering in the 21st Century

The National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering performed a study on Grand Challenges for Environmental Engineering in the 21st Century, which they published in 2018. It is now available to the general public and is a good, bracing read. The excerpt below is from the introduction. Yup, it’s 125 pages and will take longer than 15 minutes to absorb, but it’s worth the time. You can download the report and slides, too.

“The report identifies five pressing challenges for the 21st century that environmental engineers are uniquely poised to help advance:

1: Sustainably supply food, water, and energy

2: Curb climate change and adapt to its impacts

3: Design a future without pollution and waste

4: Create efficient, healthy, resilient cities

5: Foster informed decisions and actions

These grand challenges stem from a vision of a future world where humans and ecosystems thrive together. Although this is unquestionably an ambitious vision, it is feasible—and imperative—to achieve significant steps toward these challenges in both the near and long term.

The challenges provide focal points for evolving environmental engineering education, research, and practice toward increased contributions and a greater impact. Implementing this new model will require modifications in the educational curriculum and creative approaches to foster interdisciplinary research on complex social and environmental problems. It will also require broader coalitions of scholars and practitioners from different disciplines and backgrounds, as well as true partnerships with communities and stakeholders. Greater collaboration with economists, policy scholars, and businesses and entrepreneurs is needed to understand and manage issues that cut across sectors. Finally, this work must be carried out with a keen awareness of the needs of people who have historically been excluded from environmental decision making, such as those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, members of underrepresented groups, or those otherwise marginalized.”

Free “Designing for environmental sustainability and social impact” course starts July 9th

Develop entrepreneurial solutions that promote environmental conservation and address problems of poverty. This is a hands-on, project-based 6-week course that consists of weekly readings, videos, and workshops and is offered for FREE with the support of MAVA Foundation. You’ll explore different environmental challenges, identify areas of opportunity, and learn how to propose impactful solutions. You’ll have the opportunity to work with a team and learn from experts like Levi’s VP of Sustainability as well as the CEOs of the Nature Conservancy and Green for All.

By the end, you’ll have mastered a handful of collaborative and entrepreneurial approaches to help you promote both environmental sustainability and social impact – whether you’re a conservation specialist, a social entrepreneur, or a passionate change agent.
Ready to tackle an environmental challenge?
ENROLL FOR FREE