Think global, act local: using a translocal approach to understand community-based organisations’ responses to planetary health crises during COVID-19

Geordan Shannon*, Parabita Basu, Laura E.R. Peters, Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Tania Minka Herrera Delgado, Rajkumar Gope, Maga Guanilo, Ilan Kelman, Lilian Noelli, Eija Meriläinen, Katie Riley, Chloe Wood, Audrey Prost

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientific


Little is known on how community-based responses to planetary health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can integrate concerns about livelihoods, equity, health, wellbeing, and the environment. We used a translocal learning approach to co-develop insights on community-based responses to complex health and environmental and economic crises with leaders from five organisations working with communities at the front line of intersecting planetary health challenges in Finland, India, Kenya, Peru, and the USA. Translocal learning supports collective knowledge production across different localities in ways that value local perspectives but transcend national boundaries. There were three main findings from the translocal learning process. First, thanks to their proximity to the communities they served, community-based organisations (CBOs) can quickly identify the ways in which COVID-19 might worsen existing social and health inequities. Second, localised CBO actions are key to supporting communities with unique challenges in the face of systemic planetary health crises. Third, CBOs can develop rights-based, ecologically-minded actions responding to local priorities and mobilising available resources. Our findings show how solutions to planetary health might come from small-scale community initiatives that are well connected within and across contexts. Locally-focused globally-aware actions should be harnessed through greater recognition, funding, and networking opportunities. Globally, planetary health initiatives should be supported by applying the principles of subsidiarity and translocalism.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalThe Lancet Planetary Health
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)e850-e858
Publication statusPublished - 10.2023
MoE publication typeB1 Journal article


  • 519 Social and economic geography

Cite this