The first Interagency Liaison Group on Biodiversity and Health (ILG), jointly organized by the Secretariat of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Health Organization (WHO) was held in Geneva on 4-5 May 2017. The core objective of the meeting was to strengthen the collaboration and policy coherence between key agencies that work at the intersection of human health and biodiversity.
The meeting addressed a range of issues such as the State of Knowledge Review – Connectig Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health*, and the CBD-WHO joint work programme. Apart from the core institutions of the group,** experts from various academic institutions such as the University of Geneva, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as well as the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Planetary Health Commission and the Ministry of Health of Italy, participated at the meeting.
After introducing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, the Aichi Targets and the mandates and activities of the CBD-WHO joint work programme, the key messages of the main reports i.e. the State of Knowledge Review and the Rockefeller Foundation Lancet Commission on Planetary Health Report were shared. This was followed by a brief overview from the core members on potential areas of collaboration with the ILG.
Unnikrishnan Payyappallimmana presented on the topics of community health and traditional medicine and their links with biodiversity. He shared insights on the work of two United Nations University (UNU) Institutes, the International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) and the Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) on access to medicines, urban health, ecosystems and health, and education. He referred to the progress made by both institutes on biodiversity and health in areas such as research, networking, capacity building and policy engagement. He also introduced the Biodiversity and Community Health Initiative (BaCH). ¨It is particularly important to focus on the synergies we can produce in terms of capacity building, raising awareness, and research collaboration,¨ he said.
The meeting concluded with discussions on follow up activities including the upcoming 22nd meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (CBD-SBSTTA22) in 2018.
*The State of Knowledge Review is a joint report prepared by the Secretariat of the CBD and the WHO, in collaboration with several partners including: Bioversity International, COHAB Initiative, DIVERSITAS, Ecohealth Alliance, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR), United Nations University-Institute for Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), United Nations University -International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH), Wildlife Conservation Society, Health and Ecosystems Analysis of Linkages (WCS-HEAL) and several others. The report wiill be able to help policy makers to recognize the intrinsic value of biodiversity and its role as a critical foundation for sustainable development and human health and well-being.
**Core institutions of the group are WHO, CBD, World Bank, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Organization of Animal Health (OIE), UN International Strateggy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN), United Nations University (UNU), Ecohealth Alliance, Bioversity International-CGIAR (a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Future Earth).