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22 April 2020

Visualising environmental and health emergencies

An artist has worked with King’s academics to create a visual representation of the challenges around the environment and what the current pandemic reveals about behavioural changes.

Sketch by Jenny Leonard: Octavio Ferraz

Artist Jenny Leonard was invited to live sketch a Q&A online at the beginning of April with King’s academics through The Exchange in the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy as part of the Re-imagining our Environment series.

Among the participants was Octávio Luiz Motta Ferraz, Reader of Transnational Law and member of the Brazil Institute at King’s. His work on human rights has expanded to consider the connections between the right to health and protecting the environment.

He highlighted how in the Amazon, mosquitos, which are the vectors of diseases such as Malaria, thrive much better in destroyed environments. As well as this, removing natural habitats forces animals into closer proximity to humans thus increasing risks of diseases being transmitted.  There is an interesting link between these infectious diseases and Covid-19, says Ferraz.


Environmentalism is strong, but health, human health is a much stronger pull. Everyone understands and is affected by it. I find it interesting that everyone is doing drastic things that would have been unimaginable only a few months ago, because this (crisis) is about human health

Octávio Luiz Motta Ferraz

Jayne Peake, programming manager at The Exchange, explained how the use of live sketching was a way of bringing academics together online, given the lockdown preventing people from coming together in person. Using an artist captures the main themes, so what you are left with are the key messages, that can help simplify complex subjects.

“Live sketching adds different dynamic to the discussions. People witness topics come to life, which can open new ways of seeing and understanding.”

Jayne Peake, Engagement Manager, The Exchange

Ferraz is hopeful that the Covid-19 crisis will enable new mechanisms to support the global health and global environment campaigns.

In his upcoming book Health as a Human Right. The politics and judicialization of health in Brazil” he argues that a protected environment is a fundamental right of every human, just as health is declared to be in The World Health Organisation Constitution (1946).

“By preserving the environment, we aren’t just preserving it for our its own sake, because it’s beautiful to see the forest, but because our health depends directly on it", he said.

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