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Connecting global priorities - biodiversity and human health

Assessment report conducted by UNEP, Convention of Biological Diversity and WHO

Biodiversity, ecosystems and the essential services that they deliver are central pillars for all life on the planet, including human life. They are sources of food and essential nutrients, medicines and medicinal compounds, fuel, energy, livelihoods and cultural and spiritual enrichment. They also contribute to the provision of clean water and air, and perform critical functions that range from the regulation of pests and disease to that of climate change and natural disasters. Each of these functions has direct and indirect consequences for our health and well-being, and each an important component of the epidemiological puzzle that confront our efforts to stem the tide of infectious and noncommunicable diseases.

Full Report: Connecting global priorities - biodiversity and human health

Key Messages

  • Biodiversity provides many goods and services essential to life on earth. The management of natural resources can determine the baseline health status of a community. Environmental stewardship can contribute to secure livelihoods and improve the resilience of communities. The loss of these resources can create the conditions responsible for morbidity or mortality.
  • Biodiversity supports human and societal needs, including food and nutrition security, energy, development of medicines and pharmaceuticals and freshwater, which together underpin good health. It also supports economic opportunities, and leisure activities that contribute to overall wellbeing.
  • Land use change, pollution, poor water quality, chemical and waste contamination, climate change and other causes of ecosystem degradation all contribute to biodiversity loss and, can pose considerable threats to human health.
  • It is important for the health sector to recognize that Human health and well-being are influenced by the health of local plant and animal communities, and the integrity of the local ecosystems that they form.
  • Infectious diseases cause over one billion human infections per year, with millions of deaths each year globally. Approximately two thirds of known human infectious diseases are shared with animals, and the majority of recently emerging diseases are associated with wildlife.
  • Public health policies must ensure that the impacts of ecosystem alteration are assessed and reflected in strategies by meaningfully engaging with different sectors, disciplines and local communities. The Sustainable Development Goals and post-2015 development agenda provide unique momentum and opportunity to develop coherent, coordinated, cross- sectoral action.

Standard identifier: ISBN 978 92 4 150853 7

Source: This and other publications of the WHO can be found under [1]