Sustainability Transformation for Planetary Health at the Integral European Conference


Planetary health can be considered an approach to life which includes people and the planet, and attempts to address inequalities, with the objective that all people on the globe have the ability to enjoy health and well-being (Gostin et al. 2018), in order to leave no one behind (Holst, 2020; UN Committee for Development, 2018). However, we are at a point, as recognized by some presenters at the Integral European Conference (IEC), held in Hungary over the last week of May, where we are beyond many limits and far from harmony for all. Disharmony and polarization seem to grow while metrics indicate a closing of gaps described by a few of the UN’s sustainable development goals, potentially lulling one to complacency. These observations beg many questions and therefore a call for “planetary awakening 2.0”.

Planetary Awakening 2.0, as the title of the 2023 conference, is to bring awareness of the need to wake up, clean up, grow up, show up, and rise to the global challenges we are facing urgently today and in preparation for the future. In an endeavor to respond to this call, I presented “Sustainability Transformation for Planetary Health” under the theme “Women in Leadership”.

How might we centre marginalized and Indigenous approaches within the Integral movement and our commitment to planetary health? How can we centre women’s voices? The presentation spoke to sustainability transformation towards planetary health relying on an Integral approach. I define sustainability transformation as the ability to transform all our systems, including the self through self-leadership and co-creation to live sustainably for all and for our planet. To do so, I sought to bridge non-Anthropocentric, non-Western, and Indigenous wisdom traditions with Western thought. It is critical to embed an approach in multiple ways of seeing, being, and doing. 

So, I invited attendees to engage with questions to support seeing more integrally and inclusively. Michel Onfray delineates our times of crisis in his 2016 book Cosmos and calls for essentially countering these times by connecting more deeply in “Alive Time” through contemplation of the lessons the cosmos has for us. In sharing this space and time with attendees, I advocated for open and honest acknowledgement of the crises of our times determining planetary health. These include the current extractive, economic systems that fail to provide harmony for all, and political turmoil, such as that of the surrounding region of the conference. 

Keynotes included Gabor Mate who, drawing from his decades of research and experiences, such as in supporting individuals in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, brought attention to the need for an integrated perspective to see past false barriers set up by what he sees as individualistic ideology of our current culture. Dr. Robert Kegan presented his understanding of the reactionary forces he sees are a consequence of the “shadow” through an analysis of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”. In addressing these individualistic, siloed ways of being, Diana Murillo Bohorquez took us through a powerful exercise to experience how important relational space is for our evolution of consciousness. Terri O’Fallon also offered a sophisticated understanding of our evolution but practical practices to support planetary awakening. Vivian Dittmar spoke to planetary awakening from a needed feminine perspective. Dr. Gail Hochachka reframed climate change as an opportunity to wake up, clean up, grow up, and show up, considering the nonlinear ways in which every action matters. Bringing multiple threads together, founder of Integral Theory, Ken Wilber, emphasized the integral and developmental focuses of Integral Theory as critical for planetary awakening 2.0. Further keynotes and the numerous workshops and presentations facilitated the many and critical aspects needed for planetary awakening, presencing deeper ways of knowing as the often-forgotten frame, as the self in the broader systems.

I continue to explore how I might continue to wake up, clean up, grow up, show up, and rise to the challenges to and opportunities for regeneration around planetary health. As speakers also noted, every action matters and it begins with the self. Perhaps, and yes, this is an invitation – we might ponder on how we might counter current challenging times with more ‘Alive Time’ and how we might take some little action starting with the self, in view of our interconnections and interdependence of and with All.


Gostin, L., Meier, B., Thomas, R., Magar, V., & Ghebreyesus, T. (2018). 70 years of human rights in global health: Drawing on a contentious past to secure a hopeful future. Lancet, 392(10165), 2731–2735.

Holst, J. (2020). Global Health – Emergence, hegemonic trends and biomedical reductionism. Globalization and Health, 16(1), 42.

Integral European Conference,

Onfray, M. (2016). Cosmos. Flammarion.

UN Committee for Development. (2018). Policy, report on the twentieth plenary session. Supplement No. 13 (E/ 2018/33). United Nations.

Graphic recording produced by Réka Livits and Mathias Wietbrecht: