Breaking Barriers around One Health

By Elisa Morgera

The Hub was invited to share transferable findings from legal, inter- and trans-disciplinary research on human rights, equity and human/planetary health at an international, invitation-only workshop “Breaking Barriers: Advancing the One Health Agenda with a Focus on Environment” (12-13 October, Berlin, Germany). The event was organised by the German Federal Ministries of Economic Cooperation and Development, and for the Environment, the Quadripartite Collaboration on One Health (Food and Agriculture Organisation, UN Environment Programme, World Health Organisation, World Organisation for Animal Health),  the Wildlife Conservation Society, the German Agency for International Cooperation and the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade.  

Hub Director Elisa Morgera was invited to speak at a breakout session on “connecting policy and legal frameworks”, with a view to expand on her earlier remarks to WHO negotiators of the pandemic treaty (see also here and here) on:

  • the linkage between One Health, inclusion, equity and the protection of human rights, including the human right to a healthy environment (see also here, here, here and here);
  • the biodiversity-health nexus and the need for regime interaction at the international level, by broadening action beyond infectious diseases to include all environmental drivers of pandemic risk and responses, including marine biodiversity
  • rethinking the role of international institutions with their mandates and expertise and the need for a deeper form of collaboration across sectoral international institutions; and 
  • the underlying importance of enhancing capabilities in co-production of knowledge, mutual capacity building and technology co-development for the prevention of pandemics, as well as preparedness and response.

In her remarks, Morgera also called attention to the relevance of:

  • the international, legally binding human rights obligations that guide approaches to equity (as must-have rather than a nice-to-have) in the context of One Health and the WHO negotiations;
  • the definition of the substantive content of the human right to a healthy environment as clean air, a safe climate, access to safe water and sanitation, healthy and sustainably produced food, non-toxic environments in which to live, work, study and play, and healthy biodiversity and ecosystems, to support a holistic approach to the environmental dimensions of One Health;
  • the 2023 UN General Comment on children’s human rights and a healthy environment; and
  • relying on human rights, and evidence from environmental justice research, to understand power imbalances as areas of learning and work towards transformative change.

The event also provided an opportunity for discussing the relevance of Hub research for the ongoing negotiations of a plastics treaty, the ocean-climate nexus, environmental human rights defenders, harmful subsidies, and fair research partnerships as part of global governance processes on the environment and human health.

Main image: Elisa Morgera

Related SDGs:

  • No poverty
  • Zero hunger
  • Good health and well-being
  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Reduced inequality
  • Climate action
  • Life below water
  • Peace, justice and strong institutions