Convention on Biological Diversity: Draft recommendation to focus on One Health approach, COVID-19

The draft also addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health, well-being and biodiversity

By Taran Deol
Published: Wednesday 30 March 2022

draft recommendation on ‘biodiversity and health’ was released during the Convention on Biological Diversity concluded March 29, 2022. It will be the key focus area of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, according to the subsidiary body on scientific, technical and technological advice

The convention, part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was held physically after two years in Geneva. The two-week-long event invited the quadripartite — consisting of the World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and UNEP — to address the need and provide guidance for the One Health approach. 

The definition of One Health as per the One Health High-level Expert Panel is yet to be discussed or agreed upon by the Convention and its Protocols. The draft, however, called it “an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimise the health of people, animals and ecosystems.” 

Addressing the interdependent link between the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants as well as the wider environment, “the approach mobilises multiple sectors, disciplines and communities at varying levels of society to work together to foster well-being and tackle threats to health and ecosystems, while addressing the collective need for clean water, energy and air, safe and nutritious food, taking action on climate change, and contributing to sustainable development.”

The quadripartite will contribute to other efforts to establish and address the link between biodiversity and health. These include: 

  • Capacity-building
  • Technology transfer
  • Resource mobilisation opportunities for mainstreaming biodiversity and health linkages
  • Outlining health indicators to be monitored under the framework

The draft also addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health, well-being and biodiversity. The world has seen at least six infectious outbreaks since 2000, according to the experts who believe there are more to come.

“As we increase interaction between wild animals, domestic animals and humans, viruses will keep on jumping (onto humans and causing diseases),” Dr Shahid Jameel, virologist and former head of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), had earlier told Down To Earth, stressing on the importance of ecological practices. 

The draft also outlined ways to reduce pathogen spillover and outbreak of infections. The importance of early warning; surveillance and prompt information sharing for pandemic prevention; preparedness and response; and the need to address inequities in global health, including with respect to equal and equitable access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and medical equipment were highlighted in the document.

It encouraged involved parties as well as national and state governments to weave in the One Health approach in their COVID-19 recovery plan.

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