I rarely have a text for my speeches, preferring the less formal and more spontaneous form of a talk based on a Powerpoint.
A number of my speeches are available as videos on YouTube, a list with links follows.
My main topics at present are:
Public Health in the Anthropocene: Addressing the Ecological Determinants of Health
We are entering a new geological epoch: the anthropocene. Many of our global ecological systems are in crisis and are declining as a result of the impacts of the human population’s growth, affluence and technologies. This has profound implications for our health. We need to face up to this reality and figure out how we will navigate this decline with the minimum of harm, and how in fact we can create a healthier, more hopeful future. This presentation will explore these issues and the implications for our communities and for public policy.
Measuring what matters
It is said that you can’t manage what you can’t – or won’t – measure. But the flip side of managing what you measure is that what you measure is what you end up managing. So if we measure the wrong things, or measure them in the wrong way, we end up managing what we measure and not necessarily what we should be managing. One of the key challenges we face in the 21st century is that in many cases we are measuring – and thus managing – the wrong things. In this presentation, I challenge governments and communities to identify and measure what truly matters – people and the planet.
Creating Healthy Communities
What is a healthy community, and how do we get one? In this presentation, the ways in which the natural, built, social and economic environments affect the health of people in communities and what people can do to create a healthier community will be addressed.
Recreation, Nature and Health
Most of the determinants of health are beyond the health care system, in the wider environmental, social and economic environments of our communities. One of those determinants that is attracting increasing attention is the recreation system, which includes parks, recreation, fitness, sports, arts and culture. There is a related interest in the importance for human wellbeing of contact with nature. This presentation will explore these issues and the implications for our communities and for public policy.
Reducing Inequalities in Health
There are unacceptably large inequalities in health in BC, Canada and around the world. These inequalities are not only unfair and unjust, they are also to a large extent avoidable. They also result in a large additional burden of disease and costs to the health care system, and a range of other social and economic costs, as well as a massive loss of human potential. In fact, poverty may be so expensive that we cannot afford it! This presentation will discuss this issue and what it will take to address it.
Making Prevention a Priority
Despite the rhetoric of successive governments throughout Canada, prevention continues to be underfunded and is not a priority. But perhaps the most important way to increase the fiscal sustainability of the health care system is to reduce the overall burden of disease and injury the system has to cope with. In this presentation, I discuss what a proper prevention strategy would look like and what it will take to implement it.
Blow it up and start again: A radical approach to health care reform
Re-orienting health services towards health involves much more than a mere alignment of public health and primary care. A true re-orientation towards health means designing a system that begins with health promotion and ends with disease and illness care, whereas our current system was designed the other way around; illness care is the focus, health promotion an afterthought. In this presentation I present and discuss a ‘bottom down’ model of a health system that I first published more than 20 years ago, which ‘blows up’ the current system and starts again, putting health at the top and hospitals at the bottom; primary care occupies an important place in the model, in a fulcrum position. I will show how quite small shifts in health and self-care might have quite a large impact on primary care and other health service utilization.
Speeches on video
Sailing and the Change Process
- In this brief video (an extract from my CityTalk on Healthy Cities: Past, Present and Future, 24 January 2013 – see below) I describe the process of change in the community as a sailing trip.
People, Planet Participation – Healthy Cities in the Anthropocene
Keynote address, Urban Thinkers Campus, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, January 2016
“Its called . . . Outside”
Plenary address, Canadian Parks Summit, Canmore AB. Powerpoint available at
Public Health in the Anthropocene
Invited Lecture, Paul Bernard Lecture Series, Lea Roback Centre, UQAM, Montreal, February 2016
Environmental health equity: From the molecular to the global
Webinar for National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health
Population health in the Anthropocence: The grandest challenge, the wickedest problem
Plenary presentation, Australian Public Health Congress, Hobart, Australia, September 2015
Beyond the Charter: The beginning of the middle
Closing plenary, 2015 International Conference for Health Promoting Universities & Campuses, Kelowna BC, 25 June 2015
It takes a hael community to raise healthy people: Working together to create healthier communities
Keynote Address, Thrive Nova Scotia Conference, October 2014
Healthy Cities: Past, Present and Future
CityTalks, University of Victoria, 24 January 2013
Creating a healthier Vancouver/ Healthy Urban governance
Vancouver Healthy City Summit, 22 June 2012
The Environmental Determinants of Health
Health for All Symposium, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, 2011
Life, the universe and everything: The boundless opportunities of population health promotion and public health research
Keynote address, INSIGHTS ’11 – Public health research conference, School of Public Health, University of Alberta