Global psychology leaders agree to apply psychology to societal issues

Bogotá, Colombia — Leaders of psychological associations from more than 70 countries have signed a resolution committing to apply psychological science (PDF, 926KB) to address global health and well-being, minimize widespread inequalities and stem climate change.

Members of the Global Psychology Alliance met in Bogotá June 15–18 and agreed to continue working on select United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals through 2025.

“Any problem that involves humans needs to include the science of human behavior in its solution,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association, who addressed the summit. “Psychologists have a responsibility to come together and apply this science to address major societal issues, including climate change, global mental health and inequity.”

The summit, hosted by the American Psychological Association, the Colombian College of Psychologists (Colegio Colombiano de Psicólogos), the Universidad de los Andes, and the Colombian Association of Faculties of Psychology (Asociación Colombiana de Facultades de Psicología) allowed for in-person and online collaboration. Speakers came from Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Portugal, South Korea and the United States.

This summit was the second time Global Psychology Alliance members convened in person, building on progress made since their inaugural summit in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2019. The focus of the first summit was U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Take action to combat climate change and its impacts). Members developed a framework to work toward this shared goal. The alliance’s work resulted in its participation in the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2021 and hosting a virtual conference on psychology’s role in climate leadership November 18–19, 2021.

“This kind of event supports the diversity of our community, and brings us together on our common issues,” said Blanca Patricia Ballesteros, MSc, vice president of the Colombian College of Psychologists. “We need these spaces to strengthen these connections. To have this event in Colombia is an important message of cohesion and unity as we work toward addressing global issues.”

New to the international summit was a Global Learning Leadership Institute, a program for emerging leaders in psychology. Associations from alliance member countries nominated early career psychologists, who participated in weekly mentoring and educational sessions, applied psychological science to local issues through individual projects, and ultimately participated in the international summit.

“It is important for emerging leaders to get additional training to develop skills and knowledge about policymaking, administration, strategic planning and the use of psychological data to inform decision-making,” said Sergio Christancho-Marulanda, PhD, vice minister of knowledge, innovation and productivity of Colombia, who spoke at the summit.

More information is available on the International Summit on Psychology and Global Health website.

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