This is a joint lecture with The Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health at the Oxford Martin School
A concern for planetary health reflects the fact that global health outcomes are unlikely to be sustainable if they are achieved at the expense of the integrity of the very ecosystems human societies depend on. Indeed, the modern economy appears to treat global health and natural systems as substitutes: as we achieve more of the first, more of the second deteriorates. But there is also a different, under-explored, framing. Ecosystem integrity can be complementary to human health: under specific conditions, investing in the first can lead to improving returns on investments in the second. This is the thesis behind the idea of natural infrastructure. Investing in ecosystems for the purposes of achieving societal objectives, including global health, that can prove to be a good deal for both.
For example, some 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe, readily available water at home, severely undermining health outcomes. With a growing share of the population also facing the effects of environmental degradation, integrated solutions that simultaneously advance nature conservation, water provision, and health would be a critical component of any solution. If these solutions then had the additional property of representing better value for money, they would represent attractive investment opportunities. Thus, including natural infrastructure in the narrative of planetary health requires proving that it is a viable, investable option to address both conservation and health objectives. There are promising examples that give hope. The challenge is to understand how public and private sector investment can fully value the potential of complementarity, and how to design coherent investment strategies that take full advantage of this opportunity at scale.
About the speaker
Giulio Boccaletti, PhD, is the Chief Strategy Officer at The Nature Conservancy. Trained as a physicist and atmospheric scientist, Giulio is an expert on environmental and economic sustainability. In his role as Chief Strategy Officer, Giulio works to develop the organisation’s strategy and apply economic and scientific practice to its conservation agenda.
Immediately prior to joining the Conservancy, Giulio was a partner at McKinsey and Company, where he founded the firm's Global Water Resource initiative and was one of the leaders of its Sustainability and Resource Productivity Practice. He co-authored the “Charting Our Water Security” report, one of the first to address the question of global water scarcity through multilateral, private-public collaboration defining a cost-curve for investment in water infrastructure.
He is a World Economic Forum ‘Young Global Leader’ and sits on WEF’s Global Futures Council, and has served on the OECD-WWC High Level Panel on Infrastructure Financing for a Water-Secure World.