Last updated: 14 Mar 2023
The recent pandemic has reminded us of the deep connections between health and the environment. Adopting a One Health approach is critical not only to prevent outbreaks in zoonotic diseases, but also other urgent environmental issues including food safety and antimicrobial resistance. This page aims at listing the latest information, research, data and/or press releases issued by our partners in Geneva and other institutions around the world.
One Health Approach
One Health is an approach in which multiple sectors work together to achieve better public health outcomes (WHO, 2017). It is rooted in the recognition that human health and animal health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist (WOHA, n.d.). The complex nature of the interactions between people, animals and plants renders this collaborative, multisectoral and transdisciplinary approach critical to addressing future health risks and challenges.
The One Health High Level Expert Panel (OHHLE) – the advisory panel convened by World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (WOHA, formely known as OIE) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – has recently elaborated a new operational definition of One Health.
One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems. It recognizes the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and inter-dependent.
The approach mobilizes 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.
WHO, FAO, WOHA, and UNEP are working together to mainstream One Health so that they are better prepared to prevent, predict, detect, and respond to global health threats and promote sustainable development. Other institutions also provide useful resources to understand the One Health approach and its value for improving health.
- WHO: One Health | One Health in the WHO European Region | Newsletter
- FAO: One Health | Strategic Action Plan (2011)
- WOHA: One Health
- What is One Health | One Health Commission
- One Health | Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
- One Health | Biovision
- The Lancet Series on One Health and Global Health Security | The Lancet | 19 January 2023
- One Health for the Future: Three Pathways Against Tomorrow’s Crises | Foraus | August 2022
- Health in the Global Environmental Agenda: A policy guide | IISD | 20 January 2022
- Safeguarding Animal, Human and Ecosystem Health: One Health at the World Bank | The World Bank | 9 July 2020
- ‘One Health’- A Multi-dimensional Approach to Health | Public Health Notes | 23 November 2019
- Integrated approaches to health – A handbook for the evaluation of One Health | Simon Rüegg et al. | 2018
Collaboration is a central component of the One Health approach as it transcends thematic boundaries and calls for comprehensive responses on health issues. International institutions, in International Geneva and beyond, have established collaborative programs to achieve the common goal of protecting health. This section provides information on these efforts.
Resources and News
- CITES and One Health – a brief commentary – CITES CoP19 | John Scanlon | 19 November 2022
- One Health Joint Plan of Action to address health threats to humans, animals, plants and environment| UNEP | 17 October 2022
- Quadripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed for a new era of One Health collaboration | WHO | 29 April 2022
- 50 million Euros to seed new Nature for Health Trust Fund for Pandemic Prevention | UNEP, CBD & BMUV | 3 March 2022
- One Health as a pillar for a transformative pandemic treaty | Global Health Centre, Graduate Institute | 2021
- International Hospital Federation announces Geneva Centre of Healthcare Leadership for Sustainability | IHF | 7 December 2021
- Protecting nature to avert future pandemics | Geneva Solutions | 28 May 2021
- New international expert panel to address the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases | WHO | 20 May 2021
- Brief Recommends Policy Shifts to Improve Health in the Anthropocene | IISD | 22 March 2021
- UNEP joins three International Organizations in Expert Panel to improve One Health | UNEP | 12 November 2020
- Biodiversity and Health: the WHO-CBD Joint Work Programme | WHO | 1 January 2020
- The FAO-OIE-WHO Collaboration – Tripartite Concept Note | WHO | April 2010
- Contributing to One World, One Health – A Strategic Framework for Reducing Risks of Infectious Diseases at the Animal–Human–Ecosystems Interface | WHO, FAO, OIE, UN System Influenza Coordination, UNICEF, World Bank | 14 October 2008
One Health at the UN Environment Assembly
The deep connections between ecosystem health and human health were on the agenda of the second segment of the fifth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2), held in February 2022 in Nairobi. The concluding Ministerial Declaration recognized the risk for future pandemics and other health risks if humanity doesn’t overhaul its patterns of interaction with nature by adopting a holistic approach such as One Health. In this context, a resolution on animal welfare calls on Member States to protect animals, protecting their habitats and meeting their welfare requirements (UNEP/EA5/L10/REV.1). Another resolution on biodiversity and health recognizes the importance of the One Health approach to address the impacts of environmental crises on global health (UNEP/EA5/L11/REV.1). It further calls on Member States to promote the sustainable use, conservation and restoration of biodiversity with a view to preventing current and future health risks, including disease
outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential.
Pandemic Treaty and One Health
The fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB 4) was held from 27 February to 3 March 2023 to draft and negotiate a World Health Organization convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (WHO CA+). WHO Member States negotiated the “zero draft” prepared by the INB Bureau, which includes the recognition of the One Health Approach. According to civil society organizations that participated in a consultation on the document’s earlier draft this month, the draft pandemic accord needs more emphasis on preventing pandemics at their source.
World Health Day 2022
7 April is World Health Day, a global health awareness day that draws attention to a health topic of concern to the world. Celebrated every year, it also marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization in 1948. In 2022, the theme “Our planet, our health” brought attention on the urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being. Promoting One Health approaches is an important aspects in this regard.
Zoonoses and emerging diseases
Zoonoses – diseases or infections that are naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans (WHO, 2020) – are one of the health risks where the deep interconnections of human, animal and environmental health are most visible. Around 60% of existing human infectious diseases are zoonotic and 75% of emerging infectious diseases (including Ebola, HIV, influenza, COVID-19) have an animal origin (WOHA, n.d.). Controlling zoonotic pathogens at their animal source is the most effective and economic way of protecting people (WOHA, n.d.).
Resources and News
- Deadly Fungus Spread Rapidly During the Pandemic, C.D.C. Says | New York Times | 20 March 2023
- One Health Approach Can Prevent the Next Pandemic | World Bank | 24 October 2022
- After 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic, translating One Health into action is urgent | Thierry Lefrançois et al. | The Lancet | 24 October 2022
- Failure to prevent pandemics at source is ‘greatest folly’, say scientists | The Guardian | 4 February 2022
- Wildlife an infrequent source of human illness | IUCN | 3 February 2022
- Situation analysis on the roles and risks of wildlife in the emergence of human infectious diseases | IUCN | 2022
- Que faire face aux animaux vecteurs de maladies? | Mazagine l’environnement | Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) | 1 December 2021
- Impacts of biodiversity and biodiversity loss on zoonotic diseases | Felicia Keesing & Richard S. Ostfeld | PNAS | 27 April 2021
- Preventing pandemics with global nature protection | The #Connect2Earth Global Health Talks | WWF | 7 April 2021
- ‘One health’ approach critical to tackle health inequality and emerging diseases | UNEP | 6 April 2021
- Zoonoses and Climate Change: Is One Health Enough? | La Progressive | 28 February 2021
- Wildlife regulation, ‘one health’ keys to avert more pandemics | Cornell Chronicles | 24 February 2021
- Zoonoses: Managing Public Health Risks at the Human-Animal-Environment Interface | WHO
- Update on COVID-19 and the Environment | Geneva Environment Network
- Emerging Disease, Wildlife Trade and Consumption: The Need for Robust Global Governance | WWF | 23 February 2021
- UN Biodiversity Convention discusses Biodiversity, One Health and Response to COVID-19 | CBD | 15 December 2020
- It is Time for a Global Wildlife Health Authority | William Karesh | IUCN | 17 September 2020
- Unite Human, Animal and Environmental Health to Prevent the Next Pandemic | UNEP | 6 July 2020
- One Health Legislation: Contributing to Pandemic Prevention through Law | FAO | July 2020
- Does COVID-19 offer Opportunities for Progressing One Health? | ILRI | 9 June 2020
- GENeva Environment Dialogues – Emerging Infectious Diseases and Ecosystems Health | Geneva Environment Network | 3 June 2020
- Biodiversity and Infectious Diseases: Questions and Answers | CBD | 19 May 2020
- FAO, OIE, and WHO launch a Guide for Countries on taking a One Health Approach to addressing Zoonotic Diseases | WHO | 11 March 2019
- Taking a Multisectoral, One Health Approach: a Tripartite Guide to addressing Zoonotic Diseases in Countries | WHO, FAO & OIE | 2019
Food is another crucial theme to which the One Health approach can bring meaningful contributions. While food quality is a crucial component of human health, food production is highly reliable on animal and plant health. Moreover, many important zoonoses relate in some way to animals in the food production chain. Food is indeed an important vehicle for zoonotic pathogens, creating a deep bond between animal health on human health. The One Health approach is thus important for ensuring food safety. This section provides relevant resources in that area.
Resources and News
- About Food Safety | WOHA
- One Health for Food Safety, Food Security, and Sustainable Food Production | Sara N. Garcia, Bennie I. Osburn and Michele T. Jay-Russell | Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems | 28 January 2020
- Food Safety Challenges and One Health within Europe | Sofia Boqvist, Karin Söderqvist & Ivar Vågsholm | Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica | December 2018
- Food Safety: At the Center of a One Health Approach for Combating Zoonoses | Peter Wielinga & Jørgen Schlundt | Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology | July 2012
- One Health and Food safety | Lonnie J. King | US National Academies Press | 2012
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that render the medications used to cure the infections they cause ineffective (WHO, 2017). AMR is a global health concern as AMR infections cause 700’000 deaths each year and may become the leading cause of deaths globally by 2050 (UK O’Neill’s Commission, 2016). Although AMR occurs naturally, it is facilitated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in human health, food-animal production and agriculture, along with poor management of waste from households, farms, factories and healthcare settings (UNEP, n.d.). AMR depends greatly on the interaction between humans, animals and the environment, hence, adopting a One Health approach is critical for developing appropriate responses. This section presents the latest progress on addressing AMR through a One Health approach.
Resources and News
- Antimicrobial Resistance: A Global Threat | UNEP
- Pandemic holds back fight against antibiotic resistance | Andrew Jack and Allan Smith | Financial Times | 11 November 2022
- How drug-resistant pathogens in water could spark another pandemic | UNEP | 6 April 2022
- Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis | The Lancet | 19 January 2021
- A campaign to put a face on antimicrobial resistance | Geneva Solutions | 2 June 2021
- Here’s how we could stop antimicrobial resistance becoming the next pandemic | Priya Joi | GAVI, The Vacine Alliance | 9 February 2021
- Inaugural meeting of One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance | WHO | 26 January 2021
- World leaders join forces to fight the accelerating crisis of Antimicrobial Resistance | FAO, OIE & WHO | 20 November 2020
- Antimicrobial Resistance – Factsheet | WHO | 13 October 2020
- Antimicrobial Resistance in One Health | Marie-jo Medina, Helena Legido-Quigley & Li Yang Hsu | Global Health Security | 2 January 2020
- How Farmers play a Vital Role in combatting the Growing Effects of Antimicrobial Resistance | FAO | 18 November 2019
- Critical Importance of a One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Resistance | Allison White & James M. Hughes | EcoHealth | 28 June 2019
- Antimicrobial Resistance from Environmental Pollution among Biggest Emerging Health Threats, says UN Environment | UNEP | 5 December 2017
- Antimicrobial Resistance: Q&A | WHO | 27 July 2017
- The OIE Strategy on Antimicrobial Resistance and the Prudent Use of Antimicrobials | OIE | November 2016
- Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally: Final Report and Recommendations | The Antimicrobial Resistance Review | May 2016
- The FAO Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance | FAO | 2016
- Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance | WHO | 2015
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is celebrated from 18-24 November every year. This year’s theme, Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together, is a reminder that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a threat to humans, animals, plants and the environment. The theme calls for collaboration across sectors through a One Health approach to to encourage the prudent use of antimicrobials and to strengthen preventive measures addressing AMR.
Biodiversity and Conservation
All human health ultimately depends on ecosystem services that are made possible by biodiversity and the products derived from them. Indeed, functioning ecosystems provide us with food and fresh water, aids in regulating climate, floods and disease, and provides recreational benefits (CBD, 2020). Investigating the complex interlinkages between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health is thus essential to comprehensively address risks to human health. This section provides information on the application of the One Health approach in the field of biodiversity and conservation.
Resources and News
- Biodiversity and Health | Convention of Biological Diversity
- Guidance on Integrating Biodiversity Considerations into One Health Approaches | CBD
- One World, One Health: Recommendations to harness the power of landscapes | Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) & Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) | January 2021
- Health and Biodiversity | CBD | 14 August 2020
- Statement by the Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity on the occasion of World Health Day | Elizabeth Maruma Mrema | 7 April 2020
Global warming poses a growing threat to human health, as it impacts many vital elements of our lives such as air quality, access to drinking water, food security and the safety of our homes. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress (WHO, 2018). Climate mitigation and adaptation is thus essential to decreasing health risks for both our generation and future generations. More information on health and climate change is provided in this section.
Resources and News
- ClimaHealth | Platform by WMO & WHO
- Climate change and health | WHO
- Tracking progress on health and climate change | The Lancet Countdown
- WMO and WHO launch ClimaHealth portal | WMO | 31 October 2022
- Doctors decry ‘record profits’ for fossil fuel companies as climate change weighs on global health | NBC News | 26 October 2022
- The 2022 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: health at the mercy of fossil fuels | The Lancet | 25 October 2022
- International Health Organizations Call for Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty To Protect Lives Of Current and Future Generations | 14 September 2022
- Doctors put a price tag on the annual health impacts of climate change. It’s $820 billion. | Grist | 21 May 2021
- Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability | Chapter 7: Health, Wellbeing and the Changing Structure of Communities | IPCC | April 2022
- Zoonoses and Climate Change: Is One Health Enough? | La Progressive | 28 February 2021
- WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at Virtual Event on Climate Change and its Link to Health, Labour and Human Rights | WHO | 10 February 2021
- Scientists call for Integrated One Health Approach to Climate, Disease Mitigation | Rizki Fachriansyah | The Jakarta Post | 10 November 2020
- Promoting and protecting health through the UNFCCC | WHO | 1 January 2020
- Climate Change and One Health | Jakob Zinsstag Lisa Crump, et al. | FEMS Microbiology Letters | June 2018
- The Paris Agreement is a Health Agreement – WHO | UN Climate Change | 3 May 2018
- The impact of climate change on the enjoyment of the right to health | OHCHR
- Global Health at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface | University of Geneva, Institute Pasteur, University of Montreal and Centre Virchow-Villermé/University Paris Descartes
- One Health: Connecting Humans, Animals and the Environment | Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute & University of Basel
- Bats, Ducks, and Pandemics: An Introduction to One Health Policy | Princeton University
- Online training on navigating the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide (TZG) | FAO, OIE & WHO
- Brochures, Infographics and Educational Material | One Health Commission
Past GEN Events
Nothing will happen without communities: The role of NGOs in strengthening environmental health
Geneva Health Forum 2022 | 4 May 2022