Building Dialogue and Enhancing the Discussion around PHE/PED

October 31, 2022

By: Jared Sheppard

Knowledge-sharing among individuals and groups is essential for elevating programmatic learnings, as well as finding solutions to common challenges. However, some of this essential exchange isn’t always at our immediate fingertips. For example, maybe the person holding the knowledge we need sits many time zones away and we’ve never had the opportunity to work with them. The People-Planet Connection Discourse was developed for just this purpose: To provide a space for like-minded professionals to share knowledge, make connections, and collaborate with others working in cross-sectoral programming, specifically Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) and Population, Environment, and Development (PED).

In partnership with global health projects and PHE networks, the People-Planet Connection Discourse has hosted four multi-day, virtual dialogues, bringing together the many voices, experiences, and perspectives of those working in PHE/PED.

Most recently, the PHE Network Philippines organized a conversation on the role and importance of young people in FP/RH and climate change, facilitated by youth staff from member organizations. The dialogue introduced foundational concepts, followed up with an in-depth look into policy and advocacy, and identified concrete youth actions in FP/RH and climate change advocacy.

In August, the BUILD Project hosted a three-day dialogue focused on PED—digging into how to invest and plan for sustainable development, the intersections of voluntary FP/RH, environment, and development, and the significance of PED across climate change. These three topics clearly interlink, yet also provide the space to introduce new ideologies and experiences. I had the opportunity to participate in this dialogue and witnessed firsthand the connection of PED professionals as they discussed what they love. Seeing the innovations and differing viewpoints helped me appreciate how truly diverse this field really is. Two important themes emerged from this event: 1) the ability to create an opening for discussion about niche topics in PED/PHE and 2) global representation in a virtual knowledge exchange can be achieved.

People-Planet Connection has held two other dialogues over the past year. In partnership with the PACE project, one focused on the connections between Climate Change & Gender, touching on creating resilient communities through gender equality and women’s empowerment in climate change responses. The other, led by members from five national PHE Networks, focused on developing and sustaining a successful and impactful national PHE network from the experiences of those established in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Kenya, the Philippines, and Uganda.

These spaces have shown just how crucial it is to create important discussions where PHE/PED professionals and advocates can exchange knowledge, share lessons, and engage in positive collaboration. These digital platforms are revolutionary —being free of charge, requiring no travel, and featuring time zone accommodation, participants from Nigeria to Malawi, Nepal, the Philippines, Turkey, Burkina Faso, the United States, and beyond, are able to share inspiration and knowledge from their desks. In the near future, we hope to introduce more discourse sessions, as these events require voices and experiences from all demographics. Now more than ever, knowledge sharing, collaboration, and dissemination are so important to the PHE/PED audience and participants all over the world. While we may forge our own paths, the understanding that we all desire to change the world and improve our planet will always be the same.