Draft Document on Biodiversity and Health


    In News

    • A draft recommendation on ‘biodiversity and health’ was released during the Convention on Biological Diversity concluded recently.

    Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

    • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is known informally as the Biodiversity Convention.
    • It is a multilateral treaty.
    • The convention was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and entered into force in 1993.
    • The United States is the only UN member state which has not ratified the convention.
    • It has two supplementary agreements, the Cartagena Protocol and Nagoya Protocol.
      • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another.
      • The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity is another supplementary agreement to the CBD.
    • It has been ratified by 196 nations.
    • The CBD’s governing body is the Conference of the Parties (COP). This ultimate authority of all governments (or Parties) that have ratified the treaty meets every two years to review progress, set priorities and commit to work plans.
    • The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) is based in Montreal, Canada.

    About the event and Draft recommendation on ‘Biodiversity and Health’

    • It will be the key focus area of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
    • Event is quadripartite consisting of:
      • The World Health Organization
      • The World Organization for Animal Health
      • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
      • UNEP to address the need and provide guidance for the One Health approach.
    • The definition of One Health as per the One Health High-level Expert Panel is yet to be discussed or agreed upon by the Convention and its Protocols.
      • The draft, however, called it “an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems.
    • It addressed the interdependent link between the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants as well as the wider environment.
      • 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 also addressing the collective need for clean water, energy and air, safe and nutritious food, taking action on climate change, and contributing to sustainable development.

    The quadripartite will contribute to other efforts to establish and address the link between biodiversity and health. These include:

    • Capacity-building
    • Technology transfer
    • Resource mobilization opportunities for mainstreaming biodiversity and health linkages
    • Outlining health indicators to be monitored under the framework

    Issues dealt with under the convention include

    • Measures the incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
    • Regulated access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge, including Prior Informed Consent of the party providing resources.
    • Sharing, in a fair and equitable way, the results of research and development and the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization of genetic resources with the Contracting Party providing such resources (governments and/or local communities that provided the traditional knowledge or biodiversity resources utilized).
    • Access to and transfer of technology, including biotechnology, to the governments and/or local communities that provided traditional knowledge and/or biodiversity resources.
    • Technical and scientific cooperation.
    • Coordination of a global directory of taxonomic expertise (Global Taxonomy Initiative).
    • Impact assessment.
    • Education and public awareness.
    • Provision of financial resources.
    • National reporting on efforts to implement treaty commitments.

    Significance and Outcomes of the draft

    • The draft also addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health, well-being and biodiversity. The world has seen at least six infectious outbreaks since 2000.
    • As we increase interaction between wild animals, domestic animals and humans, viruses will keep on jumping onto humans and causing diseases.
    • The draft also outlined ways to reduce pathogen spillover and outbreaks of infections.
    • The importance of early warning; surveillance and prompt information sharing for pandemic prevention; preparedness and response; and the need to address inequities in global health, including with respect to equal and equitable access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and medical equipment were also highlighted.

    What is One Health?

    • Meaning: One Health is an approach that recognizes that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and our shared environment.
    • Approach: ‘One Health’ is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.
    • The areas of work in which a One Health approach is particularly relevant include:
      • Food safety
      • The control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, such as flu, rabies and Rift Valley Fever)
      • Combating antibiotic resistance (when bacteria change after being exposed to antibiotics and become more difficult to treat).

    What is the need for the One Health approach?

    • Collective effort: Many of the same microbes infect animals and humans, as they share the ecosystems they live in. Efforts by just one sector cannot prevent or eliminate the problem.
    • Information on influenza viruses circulating in animals is crucial to the selection of viruses for human vaccines for potential influenza pandemics.
    • Well-coordinated approach: Drug-resistant microbes can be transmitted between animals and humans through direct contact between animals and humans or through contaminated food, so to effectively contain it, a well-coordinated approach in humans and in animals is required.
    • Prevent outbreaks of zoonotic disease in animals and people.
    • Improve food safety and security.
    • Reduce antibiotic-resistant infections and improve human and animal health.
    • Protect global health security.

    Way forward

    • It encouraged involved parties as well as national and state governments to weave in the One Health approach in their COVID-19 recovery plan.

    Source: DTE