Interagency Liaison Group on Biodiversity and Health Meets in Geneva

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News
  • July 3, 2017     Geneva

    Strengthening linkages explicitly between biodiversity conservation and health goals have gained increasing policy emphasis since the 10th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (Decision X/20). COP-12 of the CBD calls for specific action on biodiversity and health urging related sectors and agencies to work in a more coherent matter (Decision XII/21)[1]. The different dimensions related to biodiversity and health objectives are captured across various goals and targets of the Aichi Targets of the New Strategic Plan of the CBD[2] (Targets 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14 and 18); and further strengthened by subsequent decisions of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, 18th meeting (SBSTTA)[3].

    “Connecting Global Priorities – Biodiversity and Human Health-A State of Knowledge Review” was Jointly published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and secretariat of CBD in 2015[4]. This report covered an array of topics including broad science-policy perspectives to more specific thematic areas such as water and air quality; sustainable production and consumption; agrobiodiversity and nutrition; physical, mental and spiritual health including landscapes and healing; infectious diseases; lifestyle, and non-communicable diseases and microbial diversity; climate change and disasters; traditional medicine and natural products and so on.  This resulted in certain key policy decisions to strengthen the area of work between the Convention on Biological Diversity and the World Health Organization and an Interagency Liaison group on Biodiversity and Health was constituted.

    Recently, the first meeting of the Interagency Liaison Group on Biodiversity and Health was jointly organized by the Secretariat of CBD and the World Health Organization at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva from 4th to 5th May 2017. The core objective of the meeting was to strengthen collaboration and policy coherence, and maximize synergies between key agencies working at the intersection between human health and biodiversity. The meeting was structured around the range of issue areas addressed in the State of Knowledge Review, Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health, including in its key messages and thematic chapters, and the CBD-WHO joint work programme. Apart from the core institutions of the group (WHO, SCBD, World Bank, WMO, FAO, OIE, UNISDR, SCN, UNU, Ecohealth Alliance, Bioversity International-CGIAR, IUCN, and Future Earth), a group of invited experts from various academic institutions (University of Geneva, University of Canberra, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), representatives of the Planetary Health Commission, and the Ministry of Health representative from Government of Italy participated in the meeting.

    The Secretariat of CBD shared an overview of the strategic plan for biodiversity, Aichi Targets and the interlinkages between biodiversity and human health and an introduction to the mandates and activities of the CBD-WHO joint work programme. The meeting discussed key messages of the publication, Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health, and the Rockefeller Foundation Lancet Commission report on Planetary Health Core member institutions shared synergies in the work program and potential areas of collaboration with the ILG.

    Dr. Unnikrishnan Payyappallimana participated representing UNU-IIGH and UNU-IAS. Programmatic work of UNU-IIGH and UNU-IAS on ecosystems and health, access to medicines, urban health and education were presented. The Biodiversity and Community Health Initiative (BaCH)[5] focused on biodiversity, traditional knowledge and community health hosted by UNU was also highlighted. The meeting discussed priorities of various core partners in terms of capacity building, awareness raising and research collaboration. Progress made by the UNU institutes on biodiversity and health in areas like research, networking, capacity building and policy engagement was also shared. Follow up activities including in the upcoming CBD-SBSTTA22 in Montreal and the next World Health Assembly were planned.

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    [1] https://www.cbd.int/decision/cop/default.shtml?id=13384

    [2] https://www.cbd.int/sp/targets/

    [3] https://ias.unu.edu/en/news/unu-ias-initiative-links-biodiversity-and-community-health-for-sustainable-development.html

    [4] Policy report on State of Knowledge review on Biodiversity and Health https://iigh.unu.edu/news/news/policy-report-on-state-of-knowledge-review-on-biodiversity-and-health.html

    [5] Biodiversity and Community Health Initiative (BaCH) – http://bachinitiative.org/