For too long we’ve put health and the environment in different boxes. The work of our generation is to bridge the two, to understand that in fact, they belong in the same box–that planetary health defines human health–and that as we improve one, we will improve the other as well.
Courtney Howard is a University of British Columbia and McGill-trained Emergency Physician who practices in Canada’s subarctic and is the Vice President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). Motivated by work on a Médecins Sans Frontières pediatric malnutrition project in Djibouti, and by climate-related health impacts on her Northern patient population, she led the successful campaign to have the Canadian Medical Association divest from fossil fuels and for MD-Financial to create a Fossil-Free Fund for individual physician investment. She has contributed to advocacy efforts in active transportation, hydraulic fracturing and coal phase-out, including the recently-announced Accelerated Canadian Coal Phase-out and frequently on climate-health at medical conferences across Canada and internationally. Research-wise, she led “FLOW-Finding Lasting Options for Women,” the first randomized controlled trial comparing menstrual cups to tampons, and is writing up the “SOS: Summer of Smoke” research project on the Northwest Territories’ severe 2014 wildfire season under the leadership of Dr James Orbinski. Courtney. She has been honoured to win the Canadian College of Family Practice’s Environmental Health Award in 2013 and its Mimi Divinsky Award for History and Narrative in Family Medicine in 2015. Courtney represented CAPE during COP21 in Paris when it became a founding board member of the Global Climate and Health Alliance and continues to be CAPE’s main contact with the international climate-health community. Mother to two young daughters and married to Pediatrician Dr Darcy Scott, she can frequently be found dancing with them in a little house on the shores of Great Slave Lake in Yellowknife. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at