Side events that took place during the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15) on 15 December addressed linkages between biodiversity and health, the Common Approach on Biodiversity and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Coalition for Nature, and regional approaches to address biodiversity loss.

One event themed, ‘Unveiling the First Nature for Health Investments for Preventing Pandemics Together,’ introduced the Nature for Health (N4H) initiative, which aims to demonstrate the linkages between biodiversity, climate change, and pandemics and to advance implementation of One Health at the national level. The first investments in this initiative were also presented.

During the event, Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said N4H aims to prevent pandemics, strengthen environmental aspects related to health, and integrate a cross-sectoral approach for animal and human health.

Ecuador, Ghana, Mongolia, Rwanda, Viet Nam, and Zambia are the first six countries to join N4H.

Speakers during the event, inter alia:

  • shared Rwanda’s plan for surveillance systems to better address outbreaks and research facilities to respond to human-animal zoonoses;
  • explained that Ecuador has begun to improve biosecurity systems in controlling wildlife-based diseases through biodiversity conservation; 
  • highlighted an inter-ministerial initiative in Mongolia to address human and livestock health and biodiversity, noting support from N4H to implement it; 
  • described the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) work in addressing transboundary ecosystems within the One Health context, including protecting the habitat of mountain gorillas from humans during the pandemic to ensure they do not catch COVID-19 from humans; and
  • underlined the critical role of veterinary services.

Omnia El Omrani, Youth Envoy for the UNFCCC COP 27 President, urged medical sectors to promote One Health, and called for consulting and learning from youth practitioners who want to prevent crises and not just respond to them.

Steffi Lemke, Germany, said N4H will be expanded to 50 countries with high zoonotic risk, highlighting her country’s contribution of EUR 50 million.

The event was organized by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety, and Consumer Protection (BMUV), N4H, the International Climate Initiative (IKI), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), IUCN, and EcoHealth Alliance.

Another 15 December event, convened by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), provided the opportunity to highlight regional contributions to reverse biodiversity loss by implementing SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 15 (life on land), with the UN Regional Commissions showcasing how they are incorporating biodiversity targets into their portfolios.

An event, organized by the UN Environment Management Group (EMG) to catalyze UN system-wide commitments to implement the GBF, focused on the Common Approach to Integrating Biodiversity and Nature-based Solutions for Sustainable Development into UN Policy and Programme Planning and Delivery.

A launch event for the SIDS Coalition for Nature made a call to action for ‘Enhancing Means of Implementing Ambitious Objectives for Nature in SIDS under the post-2020 GBF.’  The Coalition is being led by Cabo Verde, Samoa, and Seychelles – the event’s co-organizers – and will advocate for enhanced means of implementing ambitious objectives for nature in SIDS. 

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) covered selected side events at the UN Biodiversity Conference, which convened from 7-19 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada.