S1. E7. Margaret Hannah

Margaret Hannah (LinkedIn, Twitter) is Director of Health Programmes of International Futures Forum (IFF). We spoke in early February, before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Our conversations covers public health, especially its psychological and social determinants, planetary health, and creating a different kind of human being to address the poly-crises.

How can we have a population of all who have the human skills of real learning, turning epiphanies into next steps? That would mean as a society, we can adapt and change and address the challenges that are facing us and are emerging to us so that people can live their full lives.

I know Margaret through IFF. In our conversation she mentions various tools they have created, all of which are linked to below.



International Futures Forum (IFF) “a registered charity with a mission to enable people and organisations to flourish in powerful times.” (Yes, that use of ‘powerful times’ is the inspiration for the title of this interview series.

Kitbag “creates a space to become calm, share feelings and grow quality relationships”.

‘The Body Keeps The Score’ (A phrase Margaret uses at 3:09) is the title of an excellent book (Wikipedia) by Bessel van der Kolk on the effects of psychological trauma, also known as traumatic stress.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly exposed how these existing inequalities – and the interconnections between them such as race, gender or geography, are associated with an increased risk of becoming ill with a disease such as COVID-19.” Local Government Association

The Black Report on health inequalities in 1980 (mentioned by at about 6:05).

Three Horizons model is explained on the IFF website here. The key book is Bill Sharpe’s ‘Three Horizons: The Patterning of Hope’, which I summarise and review here.

Planetary Health Alliance is “a consortium of over 300 universities, non-governmental organizations, research institutes, and government entities from around the world committed to understanding and addressing global environmental change and its health impacts.” Tagline: Our Health Depends on Our Environment.

IFF Persons of Tomorrow Breakfasts explained here.

Charter of Compassion has a vision of “A world where everyone is committed to living by the principle of compassion.”


0:55 – Q1 What are you doing now? And how did you get there?
9:11 — BONUS QUESTION: What is Kitbag?
13:20 – BONUS QUESTION: How can something small like Kitbag help in the face of seemingly overwhelming challenges?
14:59 – BONUS QUESTION: What examples of brining a bigger public health ethos into different contexts?
18:50 – Q2. What is the future you are trying to create, and why?
23:00 – BONUS QUESTION: What do you mean by real learning?
24:52 – Q3. What are your priorities for the next few years, and why?
27:21 – Q4. If someone was inspired to follow those priorities, what should they do next?
28:30 – Q5. If your younger self was starting their career now, what advice would you give them?
29:48 Q6. Who would you nominate to answer these questions, because you admire their approach?
30:13 – Q7. Is there anything else important you feel you have to say?


-How can we support the transition towards thriving communities thriving people on a thriving planet?

-Public health looks at the underlying reasons why people get ill in the first place, and try and address some of those underlying causes. And more particularly, we’re looking at the collective the patterns in society, in communities in neighbourhoods.

-How do we get both a healthy planet and a healthy population, you know, the two have to go together?

-Over 50 years there’s been huge improvements in the health of the population, but at the expense of planetary health, in ways that will undermine human health over time. Now we can’t do one without the other.

-Future: children growing with a whole new depth of mutual respect, empathy and understanding — and the suite of skills to manage conflict and to feel comfortable in themselves (through the use of Kitbag). Becoming a new generation of parents and civil leaders with the human skills.

-How do we create a new generation of parents and civic leaders who’ve got these human skills to handle the challenges that we face? Because I think that’s what’s missing from from the discourse. There’s too much emphasis on finding a single solution to an isolated problem. Well, we’re in a poly crisis, everything’s happening all at the same time. All the dials have gone to the redzone. We can’t just pick off one or two of those items and think, right, well, that’s it. So it takes a different kind of human being to respond to these things in holistic ways, in human ways, and call out the the gifts and strengths that are there in everyone. Because we are all crew, as they say, on Spaceship Earth.

-Real learning: You could call them epiphanies, if you like. For me, it’s about the way we frame issues, that that’s part can be part of the problem. If we reframe, it can be so liberating for opening up new possibilities for how we engage with issues.

-Future trying to create: a population of all who have the human skills of real learning. That means that as a society, we can adapt and change and address the challenges that are facing us and are emerging to us so that people can live their full lives then the version of the lives that they themselves wants to live.

-Advice to younger self: to focus on the positives and see the strengths in people rather than focus on the problems and try to fix them.

Advice to younger self: follow your heart. It may take it may take time for you practically to make put into place the arrangement you need to truly be living from your heart but that’s really what what feeds life.


1 thought on “S1. E7. Margaret Hannah

  1. Pingback: S1. E29. Zahra Davidson | David Bent

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