Inter-linkages between Human Health and Biodiversity in the ASEAN Region – a Regional Workshop

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News
  • 2018•11•15     Manila

    The Regional Workshop to Address Inter-linkages between Human Health and Biodiversity in the ASEAN Region was held on 5-7 November 2018 in Manila, Philippines. .

    (L-R) Dr Unnikrishnan Payyappallimana, Dr Suneetha Subramanian, and Dr Obijiofor Aginam

    The workshop was part of a series of regional capacity-building workshops jointly convened by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat and WHO to address issues at the intersection of biodiversity and human health; bringing together representatives from ministries of health and those responsible for biodiversity conservation.

    The broad objective of the workshop was to support countries in mainstreaming critical linkages at the biodiversity-health nexus and their relevance to the Strategic Plan and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets; to support countries in mainstreaming biodiversity in public health strategies; and to incorporate public health considerations in biodiversity strategies and SDGs. This was particularly significant in the context of the next upcoming Convention on Biological Diversity-Conference of Parties (COP14), in Sharm el sheikh, Egypt (17 – 29 November 2018) and the next World Health Assembly which will have biodiversity and health in its agenda, demonstrating that the political momentum in the global setting on linking biodiversity and human health.

    Specific objectives of the workshop were:

    1. To mainstream biodiversity and health linkages in relevant national plans, policies and programmes and to support the implementation of decisions XII/21 and XIII/6, the CBD Strategic Plan, in particular as it relates to health issues, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
    2. To discuss and exchange national experiences and best practices on mainstreaming biodiversity and health inter-linkages and incorporating biodiversity and human health considerations in national and regional programmes;
    3. To strengthen capacity and identify further capacity needs to integrate information on biodiversity and health inter-linkages;
    4. To identify new possible joint activities to achieve human health and biodiversity co-benefits for consideration in national biodiversity strategies and action plans and national health plans in line with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and
    5. To promote trans-boundary/regional cooperation and further strengthen support networks on human health and environment, with specific consideration of biodiversity and health issues and strategies.

    The workshop was attended by representatives from ASEAN Member States (AMS) from the health and environment ministries through the Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development (SOMHD) and the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB) sectoral bodies. In particular, representatives from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand as well as by representatives from the Health Division and the Environment Division of the ASEAN Secretariat participated in the workshop. The workshop was co-hosted by the Department of Environment of Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines and co-organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), the World Health Organization (WHO), ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and the United Nations University – International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH).

     The participants of the workshop agreed on the following next steps and ways forward:

    1. ACB and partners (CBD Secretariat, WHO, UNU-IIGH and ASEAN Secretariat) to identify the prioritized areas in the strategies and activities identified in the workshop.
    2. Keep communication lines open among the participating countries and organizations and requested ACB and partners to proactively discuss and engage ASEAN Member States (AMS) to select priority areas and initiatives on health and biodiversity which they wish to take the lead.
    3. Facilitate further collaboration and joint actions among ASEAN Member States on health and biodiversity. ACB may organize small meetings or undertake further assessments, through its existing programs and projects identified in the workshop
    4. The CBD Secretariat encouraged ASEAN Member States to actively participate in the upcoming COP 14 Health and Biodiversity Mainstreaming event on 18 November 2018, and in the “Health Day” celebration on 24 November 2018 as part of the Rio Pavilion.
    5. The workshop recommendations and its proceedings will serve as basis for the Philippines to prepare for the COP 14 High Level Segment where it will convey the outcome of the Regional Workshop to Address Inter-linkages between Human Health and Biodiversity in the ASEAN Region.

    Dr. Obijiofor Aginam attended the plenary sessions and the press meeting and shared commitments of UNU-IIGH for advancing the agenda in the ASEAN region. Dr. Unnikrishnan Payyappallimana, and Dr. Suneetha Subramanian presented on the progress of biodiversity and health related work within UNU and related partners. They also made specific thematic presentations on traditional medicine and public health dimensions related biodiversity apart from facilitating various sessions, group discussions on strategic planning for the region. A full report of the Meeting will be prepared by the CBD Secretariat, WHO, UNU-IIGH and ACB on or before 15 December 2018.