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15th November 2004
Bangkok, Thailand

Conference Summary
Beyond Zoonoses: One World – One Health,
The Threat of Emerging Diseases to Human Security
and Conservation, and the Implications
for Public Policy

A one-day workshop prior to the World Conservation Congress devoted to mapping out the links between animal health, conservation and human security, and to identifying creative approaches to protecting the health of people, animals, and ecosystems.

We are grateful to the Ministry of Public Health, Thailand for providing a venue for this forum and for co-sponsoring this workshop organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, the IUCN Veterinary Specialist Group, the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the Center for Environmental Legal Studies of Pace University School of Law, and Asia - Pacific Centre for Environmental Law at the National University of Singapore, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

"Monkey pox," "SARS," "Ebola" and “avian influenza” are now household words. In Asia, avian influenza has challenged food security and undermined economic growth across the region. In the face of crises like these, many untested and in some cases ill-conceived efforts to control the spread of the disease have had severe negative impacts on and implications for conservation, turning nature into a perceived threat to public health. In a world where public health is an international security concern, conservationists need to take a careful look at how people and governments react to new and emerging disease outbreaks.

On the eve of the World Conservation Congress in Bangkok in 2004, no conference on the health of global ecosystems can ignore an issue so salient to the world and to Southeast Asia in particular. Can IUCN encourage a more proactive and collaborative approach to zoonotic disease than we have seen to date, one involving partnerships between wildlife health professionals and other conservationists, domestic animal health monitoring agencies, private industry, and the public health sector?

A first step on that path, this workshop proposes through a review of recent outbreaks of zoonotic disease and policy response to assess where the priorities of conservation and public health conflict, and where they align. More specifically, it will seek to:

1. Identify examples where sound conservation activities and policies contribute to animal and human health at the local, regional and global scales; and public health measures that unduly undermine conservation efforts

2. Assess whether the public health imperative would be a credible lever through which to mitigate international trade in wildlife, something conservationists have largely failed to accomplish?

3. Determine next steps for strengthening the voice of animal health and conservation biology experts in public health decision-making

4. Identify the legislation, regulation, agreements, or policies needed to fill gaps in promoting health and conservation at a global scale

This workshop will review situations from around Asia and elsewhere where incursions into forests, dietary choices, an enormous trade in wildlife involving markets densely packed with live animals from around the globe, and other alterations of relationships between humans, domestic animals and the natural world have altered the ecology of pathogens and their potential hosts, sometimes with frightening results.

Today, a localized disease outbreak can quickly spread globally, and the economic impacts can undermine efforts to reduce poverty and strengthen food security. We are in an era of "one health," and our global institutional arrangements urgently need to recognize and address this reality. The purpose of this symposium is to take a holistic and multidisciplinary look at the "missing links" in terms of how the world is currently addressing new and emerging zoonotic diseases in the context of public health and environmental stewardship.

At the World Conservation Congress, we have an opportunity to reinforce conservation's relevance and breadth of expertise on a global stage by demonstrating the value of a "one health" approach - in the interest of humanity, and the environment.


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