6.2 Further assessments since the fifth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5)

Box 6.1: Biodiversity, disease and One Health

Several dimensions of global change, including shifts in urbanization, agricultural practices, land use and biodiversity, are altering ecological dynamics and in some cases facilitating human-animal contact that exacerbates the risk of zoonotic disease emergence and spread. Zoonotic diseases are transmissible from domestic or wild animals to humans through direct contact or through water, food and the environment (WHO and SCBD 2015; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] 2017).

One Health is an approach that recognizes the opportunities and challenges related to these interconnections at the human-animalecosystem interface, and aims for optimal health outcomes for all; it is particularly relevant in the prevention and control of zoonoses, which account for more than 60 per cent of human infectious diseases (Karesh et al. 2012; WHO and SCBD 2015; CDC 2017).

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT project is expanding the detection and discovery of zoonotic viruses with pandemic potential through surveillance in ‘hotspots’ for emerging infectious diseases (EIDs), such as Ebola, to help track their circulation and understand factors driving their emergence (Kelly et al. 2017; Marlow 2017). Using the One Health approach, the project considers the behaviours, practices, and ecological and biological factors driving disease emergence, transmission and spread. Through enhanced understanding of EID risks, countries can be better equipped to prevent, prepare for and respond to the threat of an outbreak, ideally through taking preventive measures before major disease outbreaks. PREDICT partners include the University of California Davis One Health Institute, USAID, EcoHealth Alliance, Metabiota, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Smithsonian Institution.

GEO-5 (United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP] 2012) concluded that pressure on biodiversity continues to increase through habitat loss, degradation from agriculture and infrastructure development, overexploitation, pollution, invasive alien species and climate disruption, as well as interactions between these pressures, and that the state of global biodiversity is continuing to decline with substantial ongoing losses of populations, species and habitats. Since GEO-5, a midterm assessment of progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets concluded that while progress has been made, this was insufficient to achieve them by 2020 (SCBD 2014). A series of GEO regional assessments (UNEP 2016a; UNEP 2016b; UNEP 2016c; UNEP 2016d; UNEP 2016e; UNEP 2016f), State of Biodiversity reports looking at regional progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre [UNEP-WCMC] 2016a; UNEPWCMC 2016b; UNEP-WCMC 2016c; UNEP-WCMC 2016d), and regional assessments on biodiversity and ecosystem services from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) (https:// www.ipbes.net/outcomes), have summarized evidence for declines in the state of biodiversity from different parts of the world while highlighting variation in responses to regional pressures. Among many other developments encouraged by these assessments, the gradual acceptance of the numerous benefits of biodiversity conservation for human health has been recognized (WHO and SCBD, 2015; see also Box 6.1).