PDC and Sunway University to partner on first Planetary Health Assessment

May 1, 2024
By: Chani Goering

The University of Hawai’i’s Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and Sunway Center for Planetary Health join forces to combat the impacts of the planetary health crisis

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia—During the recent 2024 Planetary Health Summit and 6th Annual Meeting which took place from April 15-19 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the University of Hawai’i’s Pacific Disaster Center, and Sunway University formalized their partnership through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The first collaborative activity planned under the new MOU is a Planetary Health Assessment to create a baseline understanding of the impacts of the planetary health crisis including climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution on the human and earth systems at the national level.

Prof. Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Executive Director of the Sunway Centre for Planetary Health, announces the first Planetary Health Assessment to be conducted at a national level. The assessment will help guide countries in making evidence-based decisions about the prioritization of actions to ensure improved outcomes. It will also serve as the foundation to provide the necessary data and analytics for each Planetary Health working group supporting their implementation of the new Planetary Health Roadmap and Action Plan .

“Our work with Sunway University’s Centre for Planetary Health marks another pivotal moment in PDC’s commitment to meaningful partnerships to advance global resilience and sustainable futures. Through our new Memorandum of Understanding with Sunway University, we forge a partnership that transcends borders and unites us in a common quest to promote Planetary Health awareness and the related agenda worldwide.”

—Pacific Disaster Center’s Executive Director Ray Shirkhodai

Sunway has been a leader in the Planetary Health movement with a commitment to applying the best science and technology to address slow-onset disasters resulting from climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. The joint assessment is the next step in both Sunway’s and PDC’s commitment to a healthier and safer planet for all and dovetails with PDC’s expertise in early warning and advanced analytics. The assessment will leverage PDC data holdings and provide an analysis derived from numerous scientific sources as well as new insights to guide the urgent action needed across the spectrum of government, private, and civil sectors of society.

Sunway Centre for Planetary Health Senior Advisor Oliver Lacey Hall unveils the first Planetary Health Roadmap and Action Plan during PHAM 2024.

“The recently completed Planetary Health Roadmap and Action Plan  provides clarity on what we must do to find a way through our current predicament. That starts with having a baseline understanding of the health of the planet; a baseline that we can use in order to prioritize actions across governance, education, engagement with the private sector, and how we communicate effectively.

Leveraging PDC’s strength in data analysis and its global reach provides a great opportunity to correlate health indicators to the state of the planet for the first time.”

—Sunway Centre for Planetary Health’s Executive Director, Jemilah Mahmood


PDC’s Director of Global Operations hosts a plenary session at the PHAM 2024 Summit, “Bringing Data to Life and Life to Data” which explored the importance of data for evidence-based decision making. The session included a preview of the new Planetary Health assessment being undertaken by PDC and Sunway Centre for Planetary Health.

“We hear decision makers say they need more data, but data alone does not provide insight. With this assessment, and through our overarching partnership with Sunway University on the Planetary Health Roadmap and Action Plan, we will compile a wealth of data into actionable and easy-to-understand material to support decision-makers. This effort will also help identify any potential data gaps.

—PDC’s Director of Global Operations Dr. Erin Hughey

“Together with Sunway, we’ll also be working to equip a cadre of Planetary Health Alliance members and civil society actors with the information and resources they need to successfully communicate Planetary Health concepts and inspire action,” said Hughey.

Hughey emphasized that while a global movement, Planetary Health communication must be localized and adapted to the concerns of different audiences and sectors of society. Both Sunway and PDC have already started laying the groundwork for a Planetary Health assessment expected to be completed and released by the end of 2024.

PDC also announced its membership application to the Planetary Health Alliance—a growing consortium of over 400 universities, non-governmental organizations, research institutes, and government entities from over 60 countries around the world. The Planetary Health Alliance is a transdisciplinary, solutions-oriented field committed to understanding and addressing the impacts of global environmental change on human health and well-being.



About PDC

Winner of the 2022 UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction, the University of Hawai’i’s Pacific Disaster Center is a global leader in disaster risk reduction. Recognized for its National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment, the Center is helping nations worldwide operationalize the goals of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. For more than 28 years, PDC has enabled its partners with evidence-based decision making and innovative applications of the Center’s science, technology, and advanced analytics to save lives and build resilience for a safer world.


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