For the past few months, we have been discussing how the concept of One Health relates to each of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are a set of targets that aim to create a better and more sustainable future for all, if you want to know more about them, you can click here. In today’s blog post, we will be covering SDG 15: Life on Land. A particularly important, but often overlooked SDG when it comes to human and animal health. This goal highlights the need to protect, restore, and promote the conservation of terrestrial ecosystems, forests, and biodiversity.
Before we dive in, and for our new readers, let’s remember that One Health is an approach that recognizes the interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health. It recognizes that the health of one is linked to the health of all. With that, let’s find out more about the connections between SDG 15 and One Health.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime (and very recent) example of how the health of animals, humans, and the environment are interdependent. The virus responsible for this pandemic is commonly believed to have originated in bats and jumped to humans through an intermediate host, in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market (China). Research suggests that the destruction of habitats summed to wildlife trade, under sketchy sanitary conditions, may have played a role in this virus’s emergence.
By adopting a One Health approach, we can reduce the risk of future pandemics by protecting and preserving biodiversity a nd ecosystems. This means protecting wildlife habitats and reducing the human-wildlife interface through better land use planning and management. It also means, relating to other SDGs, such as SDG 2 promoting sustainable agriculture and reducing the use of antibiotics and other chemicals in this sector.
Another example of how SDG 15 relates to human and animal health is through the concept of ecosystem services. Terrestrial ecosystems provide essential services that are necessary for human and animal health. These services include air and water purification, soil formation, and nutrient cycling.
A great illustration of this are forests, as they are essential for air and water purification by absorbing and removing carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases, and pollutants in general from the air, and filtering water. By preserving and restoring forests, we can help sustain a constant supply of clean air, clean water, and adequate levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which are essential for human and animal health.
In conclusion, SDG 15: Life on Land, is essential for promoting the health of animals, humans, and the environment. By adopting a One Health approach, we can protect and preserve biodiversity and ecosystems, reduce the risk of zoonotic diseases, and encourage sustainable agriculture and land use planning. We can also reduce waste and promote the use of renewable resources, reducing the environmental impact of human activities and promoting the health of all living beings. Let us work together to achieve SDG 15 and create a healthier, more sustainable future for all.
By: Alejandro Sanchez MDP | Communications and Engagement Specialist