Paivi Abernethy

Paivi Abernethy

Paivi Abernethy

Adjunct Professor, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability
Research Manager/ Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Institute Finland
Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health and Social Policy, University of Victoria
p: 250-886-4473

PhD in Social and Ecological Sustainability (Sustainability Policy and Governance), University of Waterloo
MRes in Health Research (Public Health), Lancaster University, UK
MSc in Biochemistry (Molecular and Microbiology), University of Copenhagen, Denmark

My current research focuses primarily on various aspects in intersections of health, climate change, cumulative impacts of resource extraction, toxicology, water, food systems, and increasing community resilience. I am especially interested in children’s environmental health (life course approach to chronic disease prevention) and studying health-centered environmental co-governance – particularly in Indigenous communities.

  • Health Geography/ Critical Public Health/ Epidemiology: Socio-spatial inequities related to health, cumulative impacts of resource extraction and climate change, with focus on toxicology and community capacity building; disaster preparedness through health-centered environmental governance; environmental sciences and collaborative transdisciplinary GIS mapping
  • Equity-related issues and intersectionality on the interface between health and the environment: Children’s environmental health; environmental and social justice; Indigenous community health; bridging epidemiology, health promotion & environmental studies
  • Effective knowledge production & translation: Bringing together different ways of knowing, power & trust in co-production of knowledge and mutual learning for better decision-making, policy development & co-governance; healthy sustainable community development & resilience

My work aims to help bridge the knowledge-to-action ‘paralysis’ between science, different ways of knowing, policy, and social change that we often see in connection with research on climate change impacts on health. I like exploring issues using community-driven or community-based participatory approaches, mixed methods, and collaborative inter- and transdisciplinary research.

Climate change impacts on health; climate health adaptation and mitigation; environmental health; Indigenous health; environmental justice and health; resource extraction and health; food systems and health; stakeholder engagement and knowledge co-production, power & trust; Science and Technology Studies (STS); integrating natural and social scientific methods and analyses in inter- and transdisciplinary research.


  • Environmental and Occupational Health, Cluj School of Public Health, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
  • Making and Moving Knowledge: Co-production of Knowledge and Mutual Learning in Inter- and Transdisciplinary Research, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University, Germany (Master’s level)
  • Environmental Analysis and Solutions III: Greening communities (Qualitative research methods), University of Waterloo
  • Environmental Justice and Health, University of Waterloo
  • Politics of Sustainable Communities, University of Waterloo


Socio-economic Empowerment of Coastal Communities as Users of the Sea to Ensure Sustainable Coastal Development (EmpowerUs). Climate change & planetary health, 6 Coastal Transition Labs, 16 partner organisations. EU Horizon Action Grant; 2022-2025

Individual Change of Habits Needed for Green European Transition (I-CHANGE). Climate change, pollution, health & citizen science/GIS, 7 Living Labs, 16 partner organisations. Horizon 2020; 2021-2024

Finnish Scenarios for Climate Change Research Addressing Policies, Regions and Integrated Systems (FINSCAPES). Regional shared socioeconomic  pathways (SSPs) & climate scenarios (incl. hospitals in the changing climate). Academy of Finland, Climate neutral cities and a healthy atmosphere funding; 2021-2024

Building Arctic Cooperation for New Climate-sustainable Solutions to Adapt to Climate Change and Strengthen Food Security (ARKISOPU). Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland; 2021-2023

Social, Cultural, Economic , and Health Effects of the Temporary Salmon Fishing Ban on the Deatnu River (LUOSSA). Municipality & Indigenous community collaboration. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland; 2021-2022


Abernethy, P. Sustainable communities are healthy communities (Invited book chapter). In Schuster-Wallace, C. and Bharadwaj, L. (eds.) The Research Handbook on Global Health and Sustainable Development. Edgar Publishing.

Thomson, D., Conde, M., Abernethy, P., Sharma, T., Siriwardhana, D., Prina, M., Sadana, R., Pathirana, T., Mishra, V., Heyn, P. (Abstract accepted). A life-course perspective on evidence and policy needs to address climate change’s impacts on older adults. The Gerontologist.

Dordunoo, D., Abernethy, P., Kayuni, J., McConkey, S., and Aviles-Granados, M. (2022). Dismantling "race" in health research. Canadian Journal for Nursing Research. doi: 10.1177/08445621221074849

Abernethy, P., Kulchyski, T., Waters, S., Luttrell, G., Pillsworth, L., and Swinkels, H. (2021). Climate Change and Vibrio cholerae in Herring Eggs: The role of Indigenous communities in public health outbreak responses. International Journal of Indigenous Health, 16(2). doi: 10.32799/ijih.v16i2.33236.

Gerlak, A.K, Eimer, T., Brisbois, M.C., Mills-Novoa, M., Schmitz, L., Luimers, J. and Abernethy, P. (2020). Power(ful) and Power(less): A Review of Power in the Earth Systems Governance Agency Scholarship. In Agency in Earth Systems Governance, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp.65-72.

Reed, M.G. & Abernethy, P. (2018). Facilitating Co-Production of Transdisciplinary Knowledge for Sustainability: Working with Canadian Biosphere Reserve Practitioners. Society & Natural Resources, 31(1), 39-56.

Reed, M.G. & Abernethy, P (2018). Social Learning Driven by Collaboration in the Canadian Network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. In Sato, T. Chabay, I., and Helgesson, J. (eds.) Transformations of Social-Ecological Systems: Studies in Co-creating Integrated Knowledge toward Sustainable Futures. Singapore: Springer Singapore, pp. 169-187

Ives, C., Giusti, M., Fischer, J., Abson, D., Klaniecki, K., Dorninger, C., Glamann, J., Barthel, S., Abernethy, P., Martin-Lopez, B., Raymond, C.M., Kendal, D., Leventon, J., von Wehrden, H. (2017). Human-nature connections: A review of empirical evidence. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 26–27: 106–113.

Abson, D.J., Fischer, J., Leventon, J., Newig, J., Schomerus, T., Vilsmaier, U., von Wehrden, H., Abernethy, P., Ives, C.D., Jager, N.V., and Lang, D.J. (2017). Leverage points for sustainability transformation. Ambio, 46: 30. doi: 10.1007/s13280-016-0800-y.

Masuda, J., Abernethy, P., David, L., and Lewis-Campbell, D. (2017). Mobilities of wellbeing in children’s environmental health equity: Confronting urban­-rural and local-global binaries through practice perspectives. In Ergler, C.R. et al. (eds.) Children’s Health and Wellbeing in Urban Environments. Ashgate Health Geography Series, Oxon UK: Routledge, pp.207-222.

Abernethy, P. (2016). Bridging conceptual ‘silos’: Bringing together health promotion and sustainability governance for practitioners at the landscape scale. Local Environment, 21(4):451-475.

Reed, M.G., Godmaire, H., Abernethy, P., Guertin, M-A. (2014) Building a community of practice for sustainability: Strengthening learning and collective action of Canadian Biosphere Reserves through a national partnership. Journal of Environmental Management, 145C, 230-239.

Abernethy, P (2014). Bridging organizations in promoting health. In Caron, R.M. and Merrick, J. Public Health: Improving Health via Inter-Professional Collaborations. New York: Nova Science, pp. 203-217.

Abernethy, P. (2014). Bridging Theories, Concepts, Organisations, and Collective Knowledge for Health and Sustainability Integration. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Waterloo