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Global Research Project update: oneHEALTH in action!

The pressing sustainability challenges of the world’s development trajectory present significant health risks and impacts. To adequately address the links between human, animal and environmental health – inclusive of their socio-economic, demographic and behavioral determinants – the need for a “One Health” approach (and similar terms, e.g. eco-health or Planetary Health) is increasingly recognized. Future Earth’s oneHEALTH global research project provides a platform to identify knowledge gaps, catalyze interdisciplinary research, and synthesize and translate evidence to policy and practice for diverse stakeholders.
Participants at the March 2019 Future Earth oneHEALTH Global Research Project meeting

The oneHEALTH project convened members of its scientific steering committee in New York in March. The annual meeting provides an opportunity to leverage the interdisciplinary expertise and experience from diverse geographic settings and sectors, using a think-tank format to facilitate dialogue and debate and link policy and research applications. Key activities and impacts over the past year include:

  • Innovative interdisciplinary training and research pathways that will deliver locally-adapted sustainability solutions, including the founding of a transdisciplinary ecohealth research center in Merida, Mexico, through the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México;
  • Launch of a new initiative in Liberia with Johnson & Johnson to incorporate health impacts from deforestation into land use planning and promote sustainable land use management, building on the oneHEALTH GRP’s work that shows land use change is a major global change impacting health;
  • Policy outreach, including at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s COP14 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on One Health approaches to address the shared drivers of biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, and ill health, a nexus that provides strong rationale for biodiversity mainstreaming for health, well-being, and disaster risk reduction;
  • Horizon scanning, with the “top challenges for One Health” presented at the International One Health Congress in Saskatoon, Canada showing examples of critical needs to apply One Health research and policy innovation to address challenges and cultivate synergies;
  • Inclusive participation, including through content and coordination for “Application of a One Health approach to global health centers”, the first One Health-focused conference held at a medical school in the U.S., which conveyed relevance and value for enhanced participation by medical and global health professionals in One Health efforts;
  • Scientific advances, including a publication in Scientific Reports which analyzed patterns of disease outbreaks during the strong 2015–2016 El Niño event in relation to climate anomalies derived from satellite measurements, with findings suggesting predictive value of satellite monitoring to guide preventive measures against climate-sensitive and high-consequence diseases such as Rift Valley Fever, Plague, and cholera (Anyamba et al. 2019);
  • Tangible, practical guidance for countries that can be adapted to different contexts and objectives, including through the World Bank One Health Operational Framework.

Collectively, the project’s efforts are helping to guide effective environment and health monitoring for early warning systems that improve local and global health security, account for risks and benefits to minimize negative societal trade-offs across the SDGs, and strengthen multi-sectoral capacity to mitigate and adapt to risk drivers and impacts. We invite the Future Earth community to apply the One Health approach to explore human, animal and environmental health connections across all sustainable development topics toward a healthy and resilient population and planet.

Please join our oneHEALTH online community on the Future Earth Open Network: