Biodiversity and Human Health

These last posts, we mainly discussed the linkages between biodiversity and businesses to get private sectors engage into biodiversity preservation, sustainable use and sharing of its benefits.
But here is another WHY, we need to take care of biodiversity. This WHY is more selfish as it shows how biodiversity loss impacts our survival, as it could create human health issues.

Last June 4th, during the 2015 Green week in Brussels, the report ‘Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health’ has been released. This international conference on environmental policy, focuses on the complex and multi-faceted connections between biodiversity and human health, and how the loss of biodiversity and corresponding ecosystem services may negatively influence health.

The joint CBD and WHO press release mentions few cases:

  • Land use change through deforestation is a leading driver of disease emergence in humans and is believed to have contributed to the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
  • For example, under unsustainable conditions, industrial agricultural practices in many parts of the world may also exacerbate biodiversity loss, pest and disease outbreaks, micronutrient deficiencies, antibiotic resistance.
  • The impacts of climate change on the health.

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The report mentions potential strategies that should be used to avoid more biodiversity loss and improve the linkages between Biodiversity and Human Health to decrease the threats, such as:

  • Promoting the health benefits provided by biodiversity for food security and nutrition, water supply, and other ecosystem services, pharmaceuticals and traditional medicines, mental health and physical and cultural well-being. In turn, this provides a rationale for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity as well as the fair and equitable sharing of benefits;
  • Managing ecosystems to reduce the risks of infectious diseases, including zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, for example by avoiding ecosystem degradation, preventing invasive alien species, and limiting or controlling human-wildlife contact;
  • Addressing drivers of environmental change (deforestation and other ecosystem loss and degradation and chemical pollution) that harm both biodiversity and human health, including direct health impacts and those mediated by biodiversity loss;
  • Promoting lifestyles that might contribute jointly to positive health and biodiversity outcomes (e.g.: protecting traditional foods and food cultures, promoting dietary diversity, etc.);
  • Addressing the unintended negative impacts of health interventions on biodiversity (e.g.: antibiotic resistance, contamination from pharmaceuticals), incorporating ecosystem concerns into public health policies, and
  • Addressing the unintended negative impacts of biodiversity interventions on health (e.g.: effect of protected areas or hunting bans on access to food, medicinal plants, etc.).

Read the full report here.

That is true that there is nothing new to us, because we are quite aware of these threats. But still it is one more report that SHOWS the importance of a better use of biodiversity.

Taking care of biodiversity is taking care to ourselves.

Living in Angola for almost 2 years now, the KEY step that needs to be done and done and done and re-done is training, creating awareness among the people. They need to understand the linkages between them, the biodiversity and their environment. Why could not they any more burn their piece of land? why could not they burn their solid waste? why should they not throw away their waste on the road? Even if these people have more linkages with the nature that people from very urbanized area, they took very bad habit since several generations and they are losing knowledge of traditional sustainable practices.

We need to constantly continue our journey, we need to get the public administrations involved in these issues to create policies, we need to get control system of these policies, we need to get private sectors respect these policies, we need to have people aware and with better habit.