Biodiversity and health are inextricably linked. Biodiversity underpins the functioning of the ecosystems on which we depend for our food and fresh water and for regulating climate, floods, and diseases. It is a source of medicines (traditional and modern), supports physical and mental well- being, offers cultural and spiritual enrichment, and contributes to livelihoods, all of which has benefits for health. Indeed, human health is dependent, directly or indirectly on biodiversity-supported ecosystem services (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity).
The article published in EcoHealth calls for the need to acknowledge the linkage between biodiversity and health and to support holistic approaches with a specific note on human physical, mental and social well-being. The authors further stress the importance of partnerships to generate innovative solutions and influence policy making for a health planet for healthy people.
Human health and well-being is also an integrated and multi-faceted concept that goes beyond the purely medical – and healthy people are essential for sustainable living, and certainly for sustainable development!
The guide published by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, a partner of the Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative’s aims to raise awareness for the linkages between biodiversity and health. As such, it gives valuable insights for policy makers in health or environment; health (or social services) profession; biodiversity managers and biodiversity or health researchers or academics on how to improve their skills taking into account the significant linkages.
Biological as well as cultural diversity are inherently linked and form an important part of the sustainable development education process.
The article points out the importance of integrating traditional knowledge in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) programs using a case of traditional medicine from Kerala, India. At the same time the authors emphasise the need to address inherent socio-political and methodological challenges.
Read more about the role of endogenous development process to address these challenges and achieve key objectives related to the ESD process here
The authors: Unnikrishnan Payyappallimana (Research Coordinator at UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability) and Osamu Koike (Professor of Public Policy and Administration at the International Graduate School of Social Sciences, Yokohama National University)
While several indicators of relevance to policymaking find resonance in the community context, the communities’ definitions of what constitutes their well-being are often not taken into account.
Suneetha M. Subramanian (United Nations University Institute of the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), Wim Hiemstra and Bas Verschuuren (ETC Compas ) – key experts of the Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative’s partner organisations illustrate a holistic view of human well-being highlighting the linkages between biological resources, well-functing ecosystems and economic development. The article in the United Nations University’s award winning magazine ‘Our World’ further stresses out the importance to acknowledge different worldviews. For the article see here
The Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative’s partner UNDP’s Equator Initiative is calling for nominations for the Equator Prize 2014! Over the last years UNDP’s Equator Initiative has been awarding plenty ground-breaking local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities related to biodiversity and health.
Check out a short clip on the pioneering International Traditional Healers Exchange & Conference on Promotion of Traditional Medicine for Sustainable Healthcare in November 2009, Bangalore, India bringing together around 200 participants from academia, government and non-government institutions, media as well as 50 healers from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Americas. Thanks to the Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative’s partners ETC-COMPAS, FRLHT and UNDP Equator Initiative as well as other co-sponsors, the importance of recognising and integrating traditional medicine gained awareness around the globe. See here as well as on the Equator Initiative’s webpage here
‘The utility of biodiversity to secure health is well acknowledged. What is often not sufficiently addressed is the need to link access to good health at affordable cost for people living in remote or economically disadvantaged situations, using available resources, knowledge, skills and capacities from within their contexts.’
(Dr Suneetha M Subramanian, Senior Research Fellow at the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, UNU-IAS)
Watch Healing Power from Nature, a short video about the importance of medicinal plants and the FairWild Standard – led by BaCH’s partner TRAFFIC as well as WWF, IUCN, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and others. Initially known as the International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP), it was merged with an existing initiative in 2008, and the FairWild Standard (Version 2.0) now provides a reference and best-practice framework for sustainable wild collection and trade.
Lessons learned & recommendations for practitioners
BaCH’s partner Bioversity International is revisits the role agricultural biodiversity can play in improving dietary diversity and health outcomes in a world where 868 million people are undernourished, 195 million children under the age of five are stunted and over 1 billion people are overweight and obese. Using examples and case studies from around the globe, key authors and partner organisations explore current strategies for improving nutrition and diets and identifies key research and implementation gaps that need to be addressed to successfully promote the better use of agricultural biodiversity to improve nutrition and food security. See here and download the whole book or chapters