A side event highlighting the importance of linking biodiversity with health goals and further to the sustainable development goals and targets was organized by UNU-IIGH, UNU-IAS, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), WHO and Future Earth.
To set the context for the discussions, Dr. Marina Maeiro from the World Health Organization presented the key findings from the State of Knowledge on Biodiversity and Human Health – the landmark publication from the SCBD and the WHO. It brings to the fore vividly the various dimensions of human health that are affected due to loss of biodiversity and various ecosystem services and functions. Following this, the outcomes of another milestone publication of the Lancet Commission on Planetary Health supported by the Rockefeller Foundation was presented by Prof Anthony Capon of UNU-IIGH. The Commission’s work highlighting emerging health issues due to changes to planetary conditions -of the environment, climate, biodiversity amidst others were lucidly presented by him.
The presentations were followed by specific interventions by Mr. David Oram (Future Earth) who called for innovative citizen participation to find solutions to global change issues; Dr. Balakrishna Pisupati (UNEP) who mentioned that increasingly the conservation sector is focusing more on health and wellbeing as in UNEP where the focus of next year’s Environment Assembly would be on Healthy People, Healthy Planet and would involve a Ministerial discussion on the theme; and Ms. Eileen de Ravin (UNDP Equator Initiative) who brought in the perspective of health as a human right and its significance amongst marginalized groups highly dependent on biological resources and ecosystems for their health care needs.
During the discussion session, which was well attended by delegates to the SBSTTA, participants dwelled on mechanisms to influence the health sector community to include biodiversity and ecosystem services as determinants of health; innovative ways of communicating the perils of biodiversity loss; mechanisms to raise awareness and build capacities of different stakeholders across the spectrum of sectors and importantly, how the CBD Conference of Parties might be able to push this important agenda through its decision making mechanism.