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:
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:
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.