All posts by Pim Martens

Education in a warming world: Trends, opportunities and pitfalls for institutes of higher education

The human-induced socio-ecological sustainability crises pose a severe threat to all levels of society, particularly the most vulnerable. In recognition of this, many of those within the higher education sector are focusing on sustainability through their research and innovation, teaching and learning and institutional footprints. However, institutional and policy barriers and external challenges have stymied structural change. In this paper, we present examples of trends, opportunities, and pitfalls for Higher education institutes (HEI) sustainability across five domains: (i) innovative approaches to climate change education (ii) transformative research agendas; (iii) climate change education through professional development; (iv) supporting academic advocacy; and (v) whole systems approach to campus greening. We argue that HEI endeavoring to become truly sustainable organizations must embody values consistent with social-ecological sustainability. Misalignments between espoused values and embodied practice within HEI undermine organizational legitimacy and inhibit the sector’s contribution to the public good.

Read the full paper here: Kelly O, Illingworth S, Butera F, Dawson V, White P, Blaise M, Martens P, Schuitema G, Huynen M, Bailey S and Cowman S (2022) Education in a warming world: Trends, opportunities and pitfalls for institutes of higher education. Frontiers in Sustainability. 3:920375. doi: 10.3389/frsus.2022.920375

Vacancies: Climate change health impacts, vulnerability and opportunities

PhD-candidate and post-doc Climate change health impacts, vulnerability and opportunities

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD and post-doc researcher on healthy climate adaptation.

Healthy climate adaptation is a key prerequisite for achieving a natural and vital rural environment. Addressing the physical and mental health impacts of climate change in rural areas requires a system-based approach that accounts for the fact that these impacts are mediated by changes in population, agriculture, nature and biodiversity. Vulnerability is a function of the extent to which individuals/populations are sensitive to direct and indirect climate change impacts and of the capacity of the population, agriculture, nature and biodiversity to adapt in a healthy way to new climate conditions. Human population vulnerability is highly dependent on socio-economic, demographic and technical context, while vulnerability of agriculture, nature and biodiversity are mostly determined by local conditions, such as (extreme) weather conditions, nutrients and water availability.

To date, however, there is relatively little (empirical) knowledge on the vulnerability of human health to climate change and adaptation measures within this broader web of demographic, socio-economic, technical, nature, biodiversity and agricultural developments. Using a system perspective, we will explore how climate impacts and adaptation measures will affect human health and its interrelations with agriculture, nature and biodiversity. In doing so, we will identify the most important challenges for future health and well-being in each of the selected rural regions. For the human population we will explore future climate scenarios, accounting for possible trends in risk factors, and identify at-risk groups within the selected regions in support of rural climate adaptation measures.

The PhD and post-doc will work closely together to:

  • Develop an integrated health impact assessment protocol for, and gain insight in (health) consequences of climate change for people and their living environment in the three selected rural regions, including a description of vulnerable groups in these regions.
  • Gain insight in mechanisms of climate adaptation measures and interrelations between different transition tasks related to different sectors (health, agriculture, biodiversity) by developing a theoretical framework between healthy climate adaptation measures and potential impacts.
  • Develop practical guidelines for incorporation of these health considerations and vulnerabilities in decision making, to be used on a regional rural level.

The post-doc will be co-responsible for project leadership.

Both PhD and post-doc projects are embedded within the larger transdisciplinary NWO funded MANTRA project (CliMate AdaptatioN for HealTy Rural Areas ). MANTRA aims to develop an innovative system approach that integrates rural priorities for climate change with health risks and opportunities for local communities. It will co-create data, assessments, measures and interventions for healthy climate adaptation in 3 rural living labs. The MANTRA projects involves different disciplines (health, climate, ecology, governance) and various actors such as universities, applied science institutes, assessment agencies, organizations for societal issues and citizen participation, health organizations and various regional stakeholders.

The candidates will be based at Maastricht University College, Venlo, The Netherlands. The supervisor-team will be led by Prof.  Pim Martens

Who are you?

We are looking for candidates who:

  • have a master’s degree (or is near completion of a master program) for the PhD position / have a PhD degree (or is near completion of a PhD for the post-doc position) in the field of Public Health, Sustainability or Environmental  Sciences, Interdisciplinary Science, or another relevant field;
  • has affinity with climate adaptation and health issues;
  • the PhD likes to engage in transdisciplinary research, collaborating with both scientists from across disciplines and societal actors; the post-doc should have experience in participatory research and co-creation processes.
  • is able to perform tasks independently and in teams, has good organization, communication and writing skills, and is fluent in both English and Dutch (For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level).

Do you want more information?
For more information about this position, please visit Academic Transfer via these links for the PhD-position and postdoc-position.

Uitnodiging Boekpresentie Dierzaamheid

Je kunt ons boek nu kopen bij je lokale boekhandel of online via bijvoorbeeld deze link.

Datum: woensdag 8 juni vanaf 17.00 uur

Locatie: BuzzHouse, Vendelstraat 7, 1012 XX Amsterdam

Graag vooraf aanmelden:

Dierzaamheid beschrijft het leven van huisdieren, gehouden dieren en wilde dieren in Nederland. De titel staat voor het idee dat in een samenleving alleen echt ecologische duurzaamheid kan zijn als dat hand in hand gaat met dierenwelzijn. Het boek bevat een zestien essays over alle sectoren en domeinen waar mens en dier in ons land samenleven (van huisdieren via de veehouderij tot dierentuinen, van wilde dieren via proefdieren tot dierenrechten), steeds geschreven door een autoriteit op dat terrein, en voorzien van tips voor een dierinclusieve samenleving.

De feestelijke presentatie van het boek vindt plaats op woensdag 8 juni van 17.00 in het BuzzHouse in Amsterdam, dat te vinden is op het Binnengasthuis-terrein van de Universiteit van Amsterdam. Tussen 17.30 uur en 18.15 uur spreker achtereenvolgens Erno Eskens, de uitgever, en de samenstellers – Pim Martens, Maarten Reesink en Karen Soeters. Elk van de sprekers zal een vlammend statement maken over dierzaamheid. Daarna is het tijd om die lancering met hapjes en drankjes te vieren.

Over het boek

Dierzaamheid beschrijft het leven van huisdieren, gehouden dieren en wilde dieren in Nederland. Er blijkt veel te verbeteren. Maar het is mogelijk: duurzaam samenleven met dieren, zonder uitbuiting en milieuvernietiging. De auteurs introduceren het begrip ‘dierzaamheid’. We worden ‘dierzaam’ door zorgzamer om te gaan met onze huisdieren, dierentuinen te hervormen, de oude strijd tegen het zogenaamde ‘ongedierte’ te stoppen en door op een milieuvriendelijke wijze gezonder vee te houden. Het verbeteren van de (rechts)positie van het dier blijkt niet alleen van belang voor de kwetsbare dieren, maar ook voor het milieu en dus voor onze eigen gezondheid. Met tips voor een dierinclusieve samenleving.

Met bijdragen van: Leonie Cornips, Marco van Duijn, Frank van Eerdenburg, Lenny van Erp, Monique Janssens, Marjo van Koppen, Diederik van Liere, Pim Martens, André Menache, Nynke Osinga, Maarten Reesink, Esteban Rivas, Servé Smeets, Karen Soeters, Bert Theunissen en Frank Zanderink

€ 24,90, samenstelling Pim Martens, Maarten Reesink, Karen Soeters, paperback, 288 pagina’s, uitgeverij Noordboek.

Je kunt ons boek nu kopen bij je lokale boekhandel of online via bijvoorbeeld deze link.

Attitudes Towards Marine Life in China

Human behavior towards the nonhuman world originates in human attitudes. Understanding human attitudes has therefore been recognized as pivotal to facilitate healthy interactions between the human and nonhuman world to deal with issues such as biodiversity loss, wildlife conservation, and animal welfare.

As marine life is under increasing pressure, growing scientific attention has been drawn to this area. This study investigates public attitudes in Chinese society towards marine life and determines the roles of basic human demographics and ethical ideology in shaping this attitude. An online survey was conducted in 22 mainland coastal cities based on a questionnaire regarding demographical information, the Ethical Position Questionnaire, environmental concern, as well as environment-related behavior (measured by the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP)) and an adapted marine life version of the Animal Attitude Scale.

Our results demonstrate that Chinese women are more concerned about marine life protection than men. Chinese citizens generally consider using marine life for food acceptable, but less acceptable for using their skin or fur. Ethical ideology is found to have no influence upon public attitudes towards using marine life for testing in medical experiments. We also found that some environment-related behaviors, such as beach visits, NGO membership/donations, and transportation preferences, were predictors of attitudes toward marine life and marine life usage. Given that this study copes with marine life in a broad sense, future projects are encouraged to pay attention to public attitudes towards specific marine species, such as sharks and dolphins, since few such studies have been performed in the Chinese context.

Read the full papers here:

Chen, M., & Martens, P. (2022). Ethical Ideology and Public Attitudes Towards Marine Life in China, Society & Animals. doi:

Chen, M. & Martens, P. (2022). Environmental Concern and Public Attitudes Toward Marine Life in Coastal China.  Anthrozoös, doi: 10.1080/08927936.2022.2101247

Cats and COVID-19

Cats are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2. Considering the close contact that exists between humans and cats, this is worrisome. Virus transmission between species bears a particular risk of leading to the development of new virus variants. Therefore, the aim of this review was to provide a comprehensive overview about what is known about the role of cats regarding the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to guide further research and inform policy makers. The main outcome of this review was that while cats are susceptible to the virus and transmission from humans to cats happen regularly, there is currently no evidence of widespread SARS-CoV-2 circulation among cats. Overall, cats seem to play little role in the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, this review also revealed substantial gaps in research. For instance, large-scale studies including more cats are needed to solidify evidence gathered from individual studies. Moreover, the role stray, feral, and shelter cats has attracted little research as well as the possibility of cat-to-cat virus transmission beyond experimental infection. Tackling these gaps in research is important to adequately evaluate the danger of cats’ susceptibility to SARS-COV-2 now and in the future. Beyond more research, surveillance, and careful interaction with pet cats, we need to tackle the actual root problem more. We need to carefully examine and rethink the current relationship humanity has with animals and ecosystems at large.

Read the full paper here: Doliff R., & Martens, P. (2022) Cats and SARS-CoV-2: A Scoping ReviewAnimals. 12(11):1413.

Sustainable Development Matters for Animals Too

This document contains an open letter, also published as a Commentary in the inaugural issue of CABI One Health, followed by a list of authors and other signatories (I am not an author of this text, but did sign it). Researchers and other experts in relevant fields are welcome to add your signature via this form. The list below will be periodically updated to reflect new signatures. If you have questions, comments, or media inquiries about this open letter, you can write to

Animals matter for sustainable development, and sustainable development matters for animals. As the One Health framework reminds us, human, non-human, and environmental health are linked (Zinsstag, 2020), and many experts agree that every Sustainable Development Goal interacts with animals in some way (e.g. Keeling et al., 2019).  

Yet animal welfare – that is, the mental and physical state of animals – remains neglected in sustainable development governance – that is, the goals and policies that governments are pursuing to promote sustainable development. For example, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development comprises 17 goals and 169 targets on topics ranging from hunger and poverty to peace and justice (United Nations, 2015). But while several of these targets focus on conservation of biodiversity, species, and habitats, none references animal welfare.  

In June 2022, governments will convene for the UN Stockholm+50 Conference, which marks 50 years of international decision making on environmental issues. At this conference, governments have an opportunity to recognize the intrinsic value of animal welfare and the links between animal welfare and sustainable development, and to aspire to harm animals less and benefit them more as part of sustainable development governance. We call on governments to take these steps for the sake of human and non-human animals alike.

Animals matter for sustainable development. While its origins remain uncertain, COVID-19 has reminded us that industries like industrial animal agriculture and the wildlife trade not only harm and kill many animals per year but also contribute to global health and environmental threats that imperil us all (Roe et al., 2020).

For example, industrial animal agriculture keeps domesticated animals in cramped conditions and administers antibiotics to stimulate growth and suppress disease, contributing to infectious disease emergence and antibiotic resistance (Silbergeld et al., 2008; Roe et al., 2020). Animal agriculture is also a leading contributor to climate change, and it generally consumes much more land and water and produces much more waste and pollution than plant-based alternatives (Poore and Nemecek, 2018).   

Similarly, the wildlife trade often keeps non-domesticated animals in high densities, either by capturing them from the wild or by raising them in captivity. This practice again contributes to infectious disease emergence (Karesh et al., 2005). Many methods of capturing animals also damage the environment; for instance, industrial fishing contributes to biodiversity loss, seabed damage, and plastic pollution in aquatic ecosystems, among other harms (Pusceddu et al., 2014; Thushari and Senevirathna, 2020).  

Sustainable development matters for animals. Scientists increasingly accept that many animals are sentient (e.g. Low et al., 2012; Birch et al., 2021), and ethicists increasingly accept that sentient beings matter for their own sakes (e.g. Regan, 1995; Singer, 1995). It follows that humans should consider the interests of many animals when deciding how to treat them.  

The stakes for animals in international environmental policy are high. Industrial animal agriculture and the wildlife trade not only harm and kill hundreds of billions of non-humans per year directly. They also harm and kill countless non-humans indirectly, by increasing disease outbreaks like bird flu and COVID-19, extreme weather events like fires and floods, and social and economic disruptions like lockdowns and supply-chain breakdowns that increase the risk of human violence and neglect towards non-humans.  

More generally, environmental changes like climate change, ocean acidification, and air, water, and land pollution are not only reducing biodiversity but also harming and killing countless animals by making it impossible for them to breathe, eat, drink, or otherwise survive. Some mitigation and adaptation strategies – ranging from the intensification of meat production systems to the construction of cities and transportation systems without appropriate safeguards – risk harming and killing animals unnecessarily as well. 

These links between human, non-human, and environmental health all matter for sustainable development governance. Humans have a responsibility to consider the interests of everyone impacted by human activity. In particular, humans should harm animals less and benefit them more as part of sustainable development governance, for instance by reducing exploitation of animals as part of pandemic and climate change mitigation efforts and by increasing assistance for animals as part of adaptation efforts (Sebo, 2022).  

Fortunately, governments are making progress. For example, in 2020, several UN bodies established the One Health High Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP) to provide guidance on ‘issues raised by the interface of human, animal and ecosystem health’ (FAO et al., 2021). And in 2022, Environment Ministers at the fifth UN Environment Assembly requested the UN Environment Programme to produce a report to improve our understanding of the nexus between animal welfare, the environment, and sustainable development (UNEA, 2022).

Fifty years after the adoption of the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment, governments have the opportunity to build on this progress. They can:

  • Recognize the intrinsic value of animal welfare and the relationship between animal welfare and sustainable development in Stockholm+50 outcome documents and subsequent international sustainable development outcome documents.
  • Strengthen and broaden the One Health activities of the OHHLEP and other relevant entities to better reflect the value of improving animal health and welfare not only for the sake of humans but also for the sake of the animals themselves, as well as consider animal health and welfare in the impact assessments that shape policy decisions.
  • Support policies that benefit humans and non-humans alike, including informational policies that educate the public about human, animal, and environmental health and well-being; financial and regulatory policies that incentivize co-beneficial practices; and just transition policies that support vulnerable populations.

We call on governments to start including animal welfare in sustainable development governance now, towards a healthier, more resilient, and more sustainable world for all.

Nieuw boek: Dierzaamheid

Je kunt ons boek nu kopen bij je lokale boekhandel of online via bijvoorbeeld deze link.

Als er vandaag de dag één modewoord is dat voortdurend overal opduikt is dat wel ‘duurzaamheid’. Bladen staan er vol mee, de media hebben het er steeds over, producten in commercials hebben ’t allemaal. Dat lijkt op het eerste oog goed nieuws voor wie hart heeft voor het welzijn van de levende natuur op onze planeet op de langere termijn. Maar het beeld blijkt iets te rooskleurig. Want niet alleen lokale groenten, afvalscheiding of reizen met de trein zijn duurzaam, we kunnen inmiddels ook duurzaam snoep eten en duurzaam plastic gebruiken. Zelfs fossiele bedrijven afficheren zich (bewust natuurlijk) als duurzaam.  Daarnaast blijken nu ook bepaalde wetenschappen duurzaam, net als gemeenten, boeken, locaties en kleding. Je kunt zelfs duurzaam rijden in een nieuwe SUV. Zo wordt ons verteld.

De serieuzere betogen dat we duurzaamheid in de praktijk moeten brengen. Het gaat dan bijvoorbeeld  over het in stand houden van ons ‘milieu’, het tegengaan van vervuiling, het waar mogelijk herstellen of vergroenen van onze ‘natuur’ en het verkleinen van onze ‘ecologische’ voetafdruk. Dat alles vanuit het idee dat door ons mensen veroorzaakte ontwikkelingen als klimaatverandering ons welzijn en misschien zelfs ons voortbestaan op termijn in gevaar brengen. Groei is prima (want welvaart zonder groei bestaat niet, toch?), zo gaat dan vaak deze redenering, mits het maar ‘groene groei’ is, bij voorkeur aangedreven door technologische innovatie. En o ja, als het kan ook nog met enig oog voor de rest van de levende natuur, inclusief de andere dieren. Het uitgangspunt van dit boek is juist dat andere dieren, hun welzijn en hun relatie met ons mensen geen voetnoot is in het streven naar duurzaamheid, maar een essentieel onderdeel ervan. En dat niet alleen om ecologische, maar bijvoorbeeld ook om ethische redenen. In plannen voor een meer duurzame samenleving hebben dieren vooralsnog echter niet of nauwelijks een rol gespeeld.

We kunnen echter met een andere blik, een nieuw perspectief naar dieren, natuur en milieu kijken. Dat is wat we in dit boek ‘dierzaam’ hebben genoemd. Dat woord is misschien nieuw, maar wie goed kijkt ziet dat het idee al vorm begint te krijgen in allerlei ideeën en initiatieven. We hopen dat dit boek eraan bijdraagt dat dat er snel nog heel veel meer zullen worden.We worden ‘dierzaam’ door zorgzamer om te gaan met onze huisdieren, dierentuinen te hervormen, de oude strijd tegen het zogenaamde ‘ongedierte’ te stoppen en door op een milieuvriendelijke wijze gezonder vee te houden. Het verbeteren van de (rechts)positie van het dier blijkt niet alleen van belang voor de kwetsbare dieren, maar ook voor het milieu en dus voor onze eigen gezondheid. Met tips voor een dierinclusieve samenleving.

Met dank aan Maarten Reesink en Karen Soeters en iedereen die aan het boek heeft bijgedragen.

Nieuw boek: De Heilige Natuur

Je kunt ons boek kopen bij je lokale boekhandel of online via bijvoorbeeld deze link.

Twaalf inheemse en religieuze leiders uit verschillende werelddelen spreken zich in dit boek uit over de heiligheid van de natuur. Hun eeuwenoude wijsheden inspireren ons om anders te gaan denken over onze omgang met alles wat leeft. Aan het woord komen de Groenlandse sjamaan Angakkorsuaq, de Amerikaanse indianenleider Chief Lane Jr., masaileider Mwarabu, de boeddhistische geestelijke Shih, de dichtende islamgeleerde Ur Rehman Chishti, orthodox rabbijn Slifkin, Maya-priester Sac Coyoy, hindoe-prins Jhala, Aztekenleider Sanchez, leider van de Canadese Bear Clan Wawatie, bisschop Smeets van Roermond en theoloog Valerio van Rochester Cathedral. Oeroude natuurwijsheden uit alle streken!

Zie ook De Heilige Natuur.

Met dank aan het  Fellowship Ethics of the Anthropocene (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) en iedereen die aan het boek heeft bijgedragen.

A South-African Perspective on Climate Change and Health

Climate change presents an unprecedented international and urgent health threat to sustainable development, human health and survival, thus placing human lives at risk. All health professionals have a duty to advocate for action at all levels to mitigate and adapt to climate change and can or should play a critical role in mitigating and reducing risk. However, the global health sector has been slow to recognise the impact of climate change upon health.

Interview findings indicate that South Africa, as a country and people, will be particularly vulnerable to climate change and its consequential health effects, food security and overall impact on livelihoods, particularly affecting the poor. Overall, participants held the view that the predicament in access to healthcare is set to overwhelm present and prospective generations within the South African context.

Responses to climate change, whether by mitigation of its effects or adaptation to them, will require strong and effective intersectoral organisation efforts within government at all levels, along with interdisciplinary research. A proposal to centralise climate change action within the national departments or to form a South African National Department of Climate Change, which reports directly to the president and parliament, has been made. As the aspect of climate change and public health intersects with virtually all other facets of government, such an initiative may go a long way to increase collaboration across borders.

Read the full paper here: Dos Santos, M., John, J., Garland, R., Palakatsela, R., Banos, A., Martens, P., Nemukula, B., Ramathuba, M., Nkohla, F. & Lenyibi, K. (2022). Climate change and health within the South African context: A thematic content analysis study of climate change and health expert interviews. African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine, 14 (1).