In 2006, Al Gore brought out “An Inconvenient Truth”, and back then, George W Bush, sort of a climate change denier, was the President of the US. In 2016, we saw a passionate appeal by Leonardo DiCaprio through “Beyond the Flood”, and now we will have Donald Trump, clearly a climate change denier, as the next US President. Mr DiCaprio comments in his movie that he is “pessimistic”, and mind you he made that statement well before Trump was elected.
But let us not forget that “hope” is the source of our greatest strength. I hope that in 2017, bumps in the road like Trump will not weigh down upon our energies for action. I hope that young people will not be pessimistic. The most important thing for young people to do is to act – get each of our acts together, and help the rest of the world get their acts together too. I hope that young health researchers will lead the way towards planetary health, and show how it can be done collectively. The evidence is there! The platforms are there (the SDGs, the Paris Agreement)! The strategies are there! The ethical basis for action is also there!
For the poor in India, 2016 brought with it several usual and unusual – enter “demonitisation” – challenges. What I hope to do in 2017 is this: to engage (with my team) and local people in addressing issues of hunger and water in 100 villages, and encourage 50 young health students and professionals to become planetary health champions.