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Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood To Lead Sunway Centre for Planetary Health as Executive Director

 Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Jeffrey Cheah, Foundation Chancellor of Sunway University and Professor Sibrandes Poppema, University President today announced the establishment of the Sunway Centre for Planetary Health, and the appointment of senior Malaysian health and humanitarian expert, Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, to serve as Executive Director.

The Centre will pioneer the application of the planetary health approach to address the causes and consequences of human health and environmental change in Malaysia. The planetary health approach is an integrated way of improving our relationship with planet earth. It focuses on achieving the highest attainable standards of health, wellbeing, and equity worldwide, all within safe environmental limits. 

The Centre’s aim is to provide a space to share knowledge about planetary health, translating academic discourse into easily accessible information, facilitating learning, and creating solutions together with a broad range of stakeholders to effect lasting systemic change.

“Sunway is one of the fastest growing and most innovative universities in the world. We are making this important investment as we aspire to become the world’s first planetary health-oriented university,” said Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, explaining the rationale for the establishment of the Centre at the Sunway University. 

“Through the new Centre, Sunway University will contribute to the advancement of planetary health through education, research, making knowledge accessible, and engaging with people across the Asia and Pacific regions and bring our knowledge and expertise to the world”.

“Today, we are facing a confluence of crises affecting our collective health as well as that of the planet that we inhabit”, Professor Poppema explained. 

“These crises are driven by a complex interplay of human-generated political, social, economic, and environmental factors, that have dire consequences, including deterioration of human health and the health of the natural world and which diminish the chance of healthy and happy lives and survival for future generations”.

“And so, there is a need for a new approach that emphasizes humanity coming together, assuming greater responsibility for our collective actions, enabling equal and responsible access to and use of limited resources, all underwritten by the need to act urgently, here and now.”

“It requires a stronger focus on how our political, economic, and social systems must change in order to better protect us and the earth’s natural systems in order that both can thrive. In short, planetary health is the health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends. This powerful concept emphasizes that in order to advance humanity’s wellbeing, the declining state of planet Earth can no longer be ignored,” he added.

Dr. Jemilah said that the Centre will leverage the diverse capacities of Sunway University’s existing faculties and networks and will forge new connections with partners from the region and around the world. 

“In its inaugural phase, the Centre will focus on Asia and the Pacific; regions which are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and other planetary health challenges. We will also engage with the government and institutions in Malaysia so that planetary health approaches can support prevention of the next pandemic, help to address the climate crisis, and contribute to the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 and sustainable economy.”

In the last few years, Sunway University has also strengthened its commitment to advance the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, through the Jeffrey Sachs Centre for Sustainable Development, launched in 2016. The new Centre build on the University’s ongoing efforts, expand its mission beyond the year 2030 and encompass pressing planetary challenges at the confluence of human and environmental health.

Recently, Sunway University became the highest ranked private university in Malaysia according to the Times Higher Education Impact rankings and is now in the top 200 in the world for Sustainable Cities & Communities.

Sunway University is also the only known university in the world that has launched its own #CampusWithaConscience campaign which promotes the University's underlying principles, embracing everything students will experience during their time at Sunway Education Group. This is the fundamental spirit at the heart of Sunway Campus Life; educating, encouraging, and engaging students in all aspects of a diverse and inclusive community to support them in adopting a lifestyle and lifestyle habits that truly reflect a society determined to create a better living environment for this generation and generations to come.