F. Maric (PhD)1, J. van Wijchen2, D. Nicholls3, J. Culpan4, K. Mostert5, O. Stone6, M. Kennedy6, I. Long7, T. Bundtzen8
1Environmental Physiotherapy Association (EPA), Oslo, Norway, 2HAN University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Health Studies (IHS), Nijmegen, Netherlands, 3Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand, 4QMU University Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 5University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa, 6University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand, 7Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom, 8Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Enschede, Netherlands

Background: Growing evidence over recent years is ever more clearly proving the dependence of human health on our planetary environment and the plethora of services it provides for human functioning and flourishing, including food, water, shelter, medicines, and movement context. Yet, large-scale environmental degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss are now posing the greatest threats to human health. Global environmental changes are driving a dramatic rise in non-communicable diseases, malnutrition, obesity, trauma and injury, climate migration, displacement, conflict, and associated mental health problems, and a rise in infectious and vector-borne disease of which the Covid-19 pandemic is but the most recent example. Building on the fundamental insight that human health can no longer be addressed without resolving environmental issues, key international policies like the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development (incl. Sustainable Development Goals) and the WHO Global Strategy on Health, Environment and Climate Change are now calling for comprehensive approaches that simultaneously improve human health and wellbeing, promote sustainability and combat environmental issues. While there has been a corresponding surge of developments across many healthcare professions, including the burgeoning fields of planetary health and sustainable healthcare, to date, the physiotherapy profession has not yet joined these efforts at a notable scale.

Purpose: As a global call to action and collaborative project launched in March 2020, the Environmental Physiotherapy Agenda 2023 (EPT Agenda 2023, seeks to change this status quo by inspiring the integration of environmental and sustainability perspectives into international entry-level physiotherapy education. At the point of writing this abstract, 12 physiotherapy education institutions from across the Americas, Africa, Europe and the South Pacific have committed to participating in the EPT Agenda 2023 with many more in close conversations to join. Several national physiotherapy associations, special interest and student organisations have formally expressed their support of the Agenda, as much as a growing group of interdisciplinary organisations across planetary health and sustainable healthcare.

Methods: In this presentation we will:
  1. Outline the rationale, aim and core principles of the EPT Agenda 2023
  2. Discuss concrete examples regarding content, methods and anticipated challenges for environmental and sustainability education in physiotherapy. 
  3. Outline the collaborative project for the development of an open-access knowledge-base for environmental physiotherapy education that will provide essential support for its further development in the future.

Results: The presentation will include a progress report that will be up-to-date with the final conference timing.

Conclusion(s): The integration of environmental and sustainability perspectives in entry-level physiotherapy education is the single most effective action we can take as a profession to ensure the health of future generations and support the transition to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future. The EPT Agenda 2023 provides a clear pathway toward this aim while calling for collaboration, diversity and creativity in environmental physiotherapy education approaches.

Implications: Achieving the aims of the EPT Agenda 2023 will enable our profession to make an urgent, significant and unique contribution to planetary health and sustainable development in a manner that thrives on the inseparable relationship between health, functioning and our planetary environment.

Funding, acknowledgements: na

Keywords: Climate change, Planetary Health, Sustainable Development

Topic: Education

Did this work require ethics approval? No
Institution: na
Committee: na
Reason: No patients are involved in the project. Participation by university departments is voluntary and public.

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

Back to the listing