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Connecting human health and wellbeing with ecosystem health through global targets

 The CBD’s SBSTTA debated upon the close link between the co-benefits of conserving intact ecosystems for both biological diversity and human health.

The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), the intergovernmental scientific advisory body of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), presents assessments of the status of biological diversity, and of the types of measures taken in accordance with the provision of the CBD. On a regular basis, the SBSTTA reports to the Conference of the Parties (CoP) on its work, answers it questions and, provides valuable recommendations. The CBD defines biological diversity as ‘the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part of; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems’.

The SBSTTA held its twenty-first meeting (SBSTTA-21) last December (2017) in Montreal (Canada).The side event “Connecting human health and well-being with ecosystem health through global targets’’ organized by the IUCN-RLE and EcoHealth Alliance presented advances in the research linking biodiversity and human health.

Biological diversity and human health are closely linked. It has been recognized by the CoP that a better awareness of the interactions between health and biodiversity could support and improve many aspects of human health. Biodiversity and ecosystems health promotes and improves healthy people. In this context, ecosystem risk assessments are truly important as they provide a set of essential information for sustainable ecosystem management, such as the status of ecosystems, and the interactions between humans and ecosystems. They also provide indicators to evaluate the progress towards the Aichi Targets, the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs), and the Climate Change agreements.

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) is the standard guidelines to establish ecosystem risk assessments. It is an evidence-based methodology, objective, transparent and repeatable, and can be used both on local and global scales. It gives the actual status of an ecosystem, to which extent it is at risk of collapsing and under which threats. Therefore, RLE risk assessments give a way forward to a sustainable management of ecosystems in order to avoid loss of biodiversity, prevent and mitigate infectious diseases impacts, and to improve human health and well-being all over the world.

Because the causes of biodiversity loss and the emergence of diseases are similar (habitat change, over-exploitation, pollution, invasive species and climate change), RLE assessments became a reference in terms of food security, access to clean water, disaster risk reduction, risk of disease, and any components related to human health and well-being. RLE assessments provide critical information to develop new strategies and policies, to evaluate what actions are needed to restore and to preserve ecosystems and human health.

During the SBSTTA-21, ecosystems risk assessments were discussed in the context of human health on how to connect human health and well-being with ecosystems health through global targets such as Aichi targets and SDGs. The RLE was presented as a key element to assist policymakers in developing national biodiversity and health strategies. As well, a collaboration between the Group on Earth Observations - Biodiversity Observation Network and EcoHealth Alliance was presented which would test and advance integrated data, modeling and observation tools and approaches that would improve our ability to predict, detect and prevent emerging zoonotic infectious diseases.


Written by: Cléa Serpollier

Translation: Cléa Serpollier

Style and Format: Cléa Serpollier

Provita Jan 22, 2018


IUCN Red List of Ecosystems


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