Leadership lessons from a global health crisis - from the pandemic to the climate emergency

By Dr Jo Nurse

“This pandemic has been a serious test to humanity and on our ability to address emerging and complex threats to global security. In the future, we cannot afford to fail in our collective ability to prevent the challenges that we face, whether from pandemics or from climate change. In our interconnected world, multilateralism and co-ordination are essential to successfully secure our future well-being.” James Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Executive Member of the InterAction Council.

“As the pandemic comes to an end, we should be asking ourselves, “Could we have prevented this pandemic? Can we prevent future pandemics? How can we apply learning for our planetary emergency and other threats to humanity?” This book not only answers these challenging questions, but outlines innovative solutions for our political leaders, including strengthening governance mechanisms to enhance global security. Our goal must be to build a healthier planet for all.” Bertie Ahern, former Prime Minister of Ireland and Co-chair of the InterAction Council.

A book by Dr Jo Nurse on Leadership Lessons from a Global Health Crisis – from the Pandemic to the Climate Emergency was launched at the InterAction Council’s 37th Annual Plenary Meeting in Malta on 16 May 2023, where former world leaders and high-level experts deliberated on the state of the world, including global security.

The content of this book builds upon previous InterAction Council meetings, expert consultations, reports, charters, declarations, and manifestos. Recommendations draw upon the experience and valuable insight of world leaders and former heads of government, and include strengthening leadership to address our increasing threats to human health, life and existence, and proposes the establishment of a global security platform and council for people and planet.


Author - Dr Jo Nurse, Strategic Advisor, InterAction Council: drjonurse[at]gmail.com

Publishers: Routledge, Taylor and Francis – Ed Needle Ed.Needle[at]tandf.co.uk

Link to the Book:


Further information:

To view a presentation about the book given at the Global Public Health Week Conference on 8 April 2024, please visit Leadership lessons from the pandemic to the planetary emergency

Key Recommendations - Leadership Lessons from the Pandemic to our Planetary Emergency:

  1. Global Ethical Principles for People and Planet – for collaborative action to address existential threats, with equity and the protection of global goods including health, oceans, and the environment to secure the well-being of future generations; emphasise political responsibilities to support multilateral responses, and to enhance trust and rapid decision-making where uncertainty exists in addressing challenges during Pandemics and the Climate Crisis. 
  2. A Global Security Council for People and Planet – to facilitate multilateral leadership with heads of government with an emphasis on preventing emergencies and enabling co-ordinated and strategic responses; to maintain oversight of emerging and early risks, triggering rapid action through the UN, countries and partner organisations to intervene early to risks and evolving emergencies, garnering political support, resources and multilateral leadership.
  3. A Platform on Global Security for People and Planet – utilising digital technology to coordinate existing infrastructure and initiatives for integrated risk assessments and early warning systems linked to adaptable multi-sector Prevention, Preparedness and Emergency Responses;  build upon existing frameworks, tools, organisations, partnerships and resources, enhance legislation, policies, financing and accountability mechanisms including independent Quality Assurance, to strengthen and modernise governance systems at all levels; where gaps exist, co-create tools to enable governance mechanisms and systems strengthening.
  4. Insure and Invest in a Healthy Planet for All – around the world, invest a minimum of US $2 per person per year for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response; reframe the Environment and Health as Global Goods requiring investment and insurance in order to prevent future pandemics and the planetary emergency; prioritise investments to create a rapid transition to net zero, combined with recovering earth systems that have a high risk of tipping points for escalating the climate crisis, including oceans and water, air, land and food systems, with Scientific and Nature Based Solutions.
  5. Create One Planet Health Systems – to strengthen security, resilience and sustainable wellbeing at community, country and global levels; building upon and modernising existing operations, services, resources and organisations, to create and enable robust multi-sector systems with enhanced coordination, infrastructure, leadership and workforce capacity. Draw upon and modernise existing professions and initiatives including Environmental Health, Public Health, Planetary Health and One Health to strengthen health systems for humans, animals and the Planet. 
  6. Emergency Leadership skills and capacity at all levels and backgrounds - to prevent, interpret risks, prepare for, respond to, and recovery from, emergencies as part of an all hazards approach to address all threats to life and existence, with an enhanced focus on pandemics and the planetary emergency; supported by enhancing scientific and risk literacy, with skills for collaborative working and communications, combined with the application of ethical principles for decision making, priority setting, strategy development and delivery, enabled by robust governance mechanisms with transparent processes.
  7. Cultivate Wise and Courageous Leaders – A Workforce for the Future: learn from successful leaders on applying transformational and dynamic leadership styles; future trans-disciplinary and diverse leadership needs to be cultivated through education, training, professional development and leadership programmes, to promote a ‘One Planet Health Systems’ workforce. Align education, skills, professional and workforce development and resources to respond to emergencies and existential threats to secure a healthy planet for a prosperous and peaceful future for all.
  8. Scale Collaborative Action through Digital Transformation – to enhance risk management and governance with rapid responses and accessible communications to multi-sector audiences; empower communities and countries with open access, reliable information and digital tools; ensure digital governance to prevent misinformation, hacking and scams; enhance efficient ways of working, with reduced travel, and the creation of efficient and green digital systems; strengthen leadership and workforce capacity supported with online learning, networks and forums; connect, share learning, enable collaborative partnerships and promote research and innovative solutions on Global Security challenges for Planet and People.