2021 NVTG Symposium Climate Changemakers in Health - From Science to Action

Call to act!

2021 NVTG Symposium Climate Changemakers in Health - From Science to Action


Call to act

The devastating effects of climate change on access to clean air, safe water, food and safe environment are becoming more visible in our daily lives. Existing health treats are likely to intensify (such as mortality from water – and vectorborne diseases) and new health treats will emerge (such as deaths from heat stress); with the impact mostly felt in areas with a weak health infrastructure and among vulnerable populations.

The call to act, formulated during the 2019 NVTG symposium ‘Climate Emergency’ was clearly heard and lead to the establishment of the Working Party ‘Zorg voor Klimaat’ (Care for Climate). This year’s symposium aims to continue to express concerns on the effect of climate change on planetary health, and to join forces –  in line with the recent 2021 IPPC Report on Climate Change and the focus of the 2021 Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November in Glasgow.

Scientific insights will guide the discussion during our symposium and the floor will be given to ‘changemakers’ in health.

During the breakout sessions we will give the floor to several sustainability pioneers in the Dutch Health Care system. They will collaborate give an overview of best clinical practices, most promising research topics and how to speak up as a health professional in the public debate.  


Did you miss the symposium or would you like to see it again?
Click here for an overview of all recordings.


Promo film


Chair of the day: Ellen Mangnus

Welcome by:

  • Sofie Jacobse & Inge Schepens - 'Zorg voor Klimaat'

Keynotes by: 

  • Are we ready to build health systems that consider the climate? Renzo R. Guinto, MD Dr PH - Associate Professor and Inaugural Director, Planetary and Global Health Program, St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine, Philippines. Chief Planetary Health Scientist, Sunway Centre for Planetary Health, Malaysia
  • Communicating the impacts of climate change through art and dance - Melvine Anyango Otieno, PHA Next Generation Fellow, University of Eldoret, Kenya, Planetary Health Alliance
  • Which science for which climate action? Integrating science, community and culture for climate justice - Gustavo A. García-López, Assistant Researcher, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra and holder of the Prince Claus Chair, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam (2019 – 2021) with focus on ‘Sustainable Development, Inequalities and Environmental Justice’

Break-out sessions:

  • Climate changemakers in the consultation room - best clinical practices. During this interactive session we will give you a few examples of viable approaches of sustainable healthcare practices. The ‘Groene Zorg Alliantie’ will host the session. Thereafter our two guest speakers  will give an informative and inspiring talk. Our opening speaker will be Iris Wichers , general practitioner and working at the NHG, who recently released an eBook on sustainable healthcare in primary care. Our subsequent speaker is Myrtle van der Wel, member of ‘De Jonge Specialist’,  will tell us more about the their recently published guideline about sustainability in healthcare.

  • Climate changemakers in the research field. For our session "Climate changemakers in the research field” we will focus on what is being studied on the mutual relationship between climate and health from a global to a local perspective. There will be three speakers: George Downwards (Assistant professor at UMC Utrecht with a focus on health risk assessment and disease prevention). George will tell us about air pollution in a global context; Evelyn Brakema (General practitioner in training and senior researcher at LUMC). Evelyn will focus on the impact of healthcare on air quality/pollution and will present a research project on the use of more sustainable asthma inhalators; Martine Rutten (Associate professor Water management TUDelft). Martine will talk about climate adaptation, water management and health.

  • Climate changemakers in society/public debate. The world is changing and we need to change with it. In this session, organised by 'Into the World', Julia van Boven (Sustainability Consultant of ABN AMRO) will give us a glimpse of the expected, major upcoming transition in the financial corporate business, that will hopefully lead to a brighter future for all of us. Lena Hartog, who was selected as one of the Sustainable Young-100 professionals, will tell us about the 3 worlds that we are all part of, and the choices you can make to influence the future of these worlds. At last, you will be given tools to reason for your good cause by 'Dokters in Debat' own board member Koen Gorgels, Resident Infectious Disease Control.

Plenary panel discussion with changemakers in health:

  • Arte Groenewegen - is a fifth-year medical student from Utrecht University driven by a special interest in planetary health, anthropology, and ethics. In the past 1.5 years she has wholeheartedly devoted her time to ‘De CO2-assistent’; a group of medical students advocating a structural implementation of planetary health education into the medical curriculum. De CO2-assistent believes that future doctors should be equipped for the transformation towards sustainable healthcare, by rediscovering their interconnectedness with(in) nature, acquiring system-thinking skills, and learning how to practice medicine sustainably. De CO2-assistent engages in many collaborative efforts with climate and health advocacy groups throughout The Netherlands. In Utrecht, Arte and her peers follow a two-track approach. While working on long-term implementations in both bachelor and master, they simultaneously motivate lecturers to integrate planetary health topics in the already existing courses.
  • Peter J. Blankestijn - did his medical school and training internal medicine at the Erasmus University and Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. Presently, he works as a nephrologist at the department of Nephrology and Hypertension of the University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, where apart from clinical work he is active in research and education. Since 2017/2018, he is active on a national and international level in creating awareness for the interaction between climate change/environmental pollution and health/disease and initiated various initiatives on this subject. In October 2020, he was awarded as the best Green Health Care Professional of 2020 by an independent jury in a contest initiated by the national government. In October 2021 he acquired an Erasmus+ grant of the European Commission to lead an international consortium that will make a platform for educational materials on planetary health primarily meant for the medical curriculum, but accessible for everybody. 
  • Nicole Hunfeld - is a hospital pharmacist and clinical pharmacologist, specialized in Intensive Care in Erasmus MC, Rotterdam. She is project leader of the Green Intensive Care, chair of the Green team of the Intensive Care and member of the Sustainability Taskforce of Erasmus MC. She is also the chair of the national Green Intensive Care Platform. Her goal is to create a 100% circular Intensive Care in 2030. She works together with sustainability professionals from TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam. For her Green Intensive Care project she was awarded the Sustainability Award 2021 from Erasmus University Rotterdam. More information about this project can be found in the following media sources: De Volkskrant, 1Vandaag, Rijnmond and Hart van Rotterdam.
  • Esther Putman - BSc MSc PhD (biology/toxicology) Coordinator Research and International affairs of the Sustainable Health Care Team of ministry of Health Welfare and Sports in the Netherlands. This team aims to accelerate the sustainability of the health care sector. Esther started career at the Medicines Evaluation Board in preclinical safety assessments and guideline development. Subsequently she worked at the ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on worker safety regarding plant protection products and biological agents. In 2012, she started at the ministry of Health Welfare and Sport in the public health department as a crisis coordinator and subsequently as policy advisor on “the healthy living environment”.


  • Chiem van Straaten - Spoken word artist and a researcher familiar with multiple scientific disciplines
  • Juliette Mattijsen - IFMSA and Act4health

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