One Health Approach Gains Momentum In Global Climate Talks At COP28

By Outlook Planet Desk November 30, 2023

As COP28 addresses the intersection of health, climate, and environment, the proposed draft declaration underscores the significance of One Health, advocating for collaborative strategies to combat climate-related health challenges

One Health Approach Gains Momentum In Global Climate Talks At COP28
As climate change continues to escalate, the interdependence between the health of humans, animals, and the environment becomes increasingly evident. Shutterstock

The ongoing global Conference of the Parties (COP28) negotiations on climate change are set to spotlight the imperative role of One Health approaches in responding to climate challenges. A draft of the COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health, unveiled during the COP's health day on December 3, emphasises the need for collaborative efforts to tackle human, animal, environmental, and climate health challenges, proposing a One Health approach.

The draft declaration additionally recommends addressing the environmental determinants of health, intensifying research on the links between environmental factors and antimicrobial resistance, and bolstering efforts for early detection of zoonotic spill-overs as a proactive measure for pandemic prevention and preparedness.

Professor Martyn Jeggo, a Vets for Climate Action member, elaborates on the impact of One Health approaches, particularly in the context of climate change and health. Emphasising the interconnected nature of animal, human, and environmental health, Jeggo highlights the potential for a more comprehensive understanding of health issues and developing effective and sustainable solutions by integrating these disciplines. 

While acknowledging the historical separation between agriculture, human medicine, and environmental management, Jeggo notes that a shift towards a more integrated approach is gaining traction across governments and academia. This holistic perspective is instrumental in addressing complex challenges linked to climate change, such as antimicrobial resistance.

As climate change continues to escalate, the interdependence between the health of humans, animals, and the environment becomes increasingly evident. The surge in global pandemics like avian influenza, SARS, MERS, and COVID, exacerbated by environmental factors including climate change, underscores the necessity of a comprehensive approach considering human and animal health in a changing environment.

One health aims to comprehend these intricate relationships and strives to develop sustainable, environmentally acceptable, and economically viable solutions. Climate change's impact on food security and nutrition, integral aspects of One Health, is also acknowledged, with shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns disrupting agricultural systems, influencing crop yields, and affecting the availability of certain foods, consequently impacting human and animal nutrition. 

Examples of successful One Health outcomes are presented, illustrating the effectiveness of this approach in mitigating risks associated with climate change. The case of Rift Valley Fever highlights the intersection of human and animal health and climate dynamics, necessitating a One Health approach to control the disease's spread.

The Hendra virus in Australia demonstrates the collaborative effort involving human disease experts, veterinarians, ecologists, wildlife experts, and climatologists, showcasing the adaptability of a One Health approach in managing a fatal virus's risks exacerbated by climate change.

Cattle methane emissions, a significant contributor to global warming, present a complex challenge requiring a system thinking and One Health approach. Strategies such as improved feeding practices, feed additives, genetic selection, methane inhibitors, manure management, agroforestry, silvopasture, grazing management, and education and outreach are explored, demonstrating the multifaceted approach needed to address climate change's impact on livestock emissions. 

The report proposes targeted funding for One Health activities to further the One Health agenda and ensure continued integration with climate change considerations, distinct from traditional allocations through health, agriculture, or environmental ministries. This focused funding pool would enable specific action areas, particularly those addressing the impact of climate change, promoting a more cohesive and practical approach to global health challenges.