ASEAN Assessment report of Biodiversity and Health, Food and Nutrition and Traditional Medicine

Document type
Document Front Page

The relevance of biodiversity to ensure the health and well-being of people is well acknowledged (MA, 2005). The joint publication by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015, Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health, a State of Knowledge Review, gave a policy fillip to the possibility of mainstreaming of health and biodiversity in respective sectors. It highlighted that loss of biodiversity led to negative human health consequences, while better access to biodiversity and ecosystems had significant mental and physical health benefits, across different scales and contexts.

Over the years, the importance of biodiversity towards achieving health goals has become more evident with the rising trends in infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The ASEAN region, witnessing rapid lifestyle changes, is especially vulnerable. The growing number of outbreaks of newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases mainly of zoonotic origin has also been a major concern in the Region. The current pandemic of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) shows the vulnerability of impaired socio-ecological systems as revealed by the complexity and deep intersectoral nature of the situation, and seriousness of the costs of inaction in conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems that are conventionally considered non-dominant sectors of health (Settele et al., 2020). However, being a bio-culturally megadiverse region that is further well-integrated culturally and economically, several leverage points exist in the ASEAN region including resource availability, knowledge prevalence, and transboundary cooperation that can help address the loss of health and well-being.

Following the Second ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity held in 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand, when Biodiversity and Health was adopted as a Strategic Focus Area for the ASEAN region, UN University-International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) has been working closely with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and partners to identify how the interlinkages between the sectors may be operationalised in the Region, across the 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS). This requires identifying relevant regional and multilateral policies, national policies and implementation activities, and mechanisms of implementation, including academic and policy institutions that could take the lead in the different themes. An information sharing workshop was organised in November 2018 in Manila, Philippines where the AMS delegates shared ideas and reflections on areas within the Biodiversity and Health theme that are important to the Region, in addition to sharing national experiences

Publication date (of file/URL)
30 April 2024
Viet Nam