CASCADING DEBATE AT THE GENEVA HEALTH FORUM

BRIEF OVERVIEW

This Cascading Debate (04.05.2022) was hosted by the foraus – Swiss Forum on Foreign Policy and integrated into the program of the Geneva Health Forum (Geneva, Switzerland), with the title Zoonoses, AMR, food safety & security threats: how can “One Health” prevent them in 2050? Let’s test it!. The main goal of the debate was to define recommendations for action to avoid pre-defined 2050 scenarios around three challenges One Health is trying to address: zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), food safety & security threats. The recommendations for action resulting from this debate will be further discussed at the Planetary Health Plenary Table at the Falling Walls Science Summit 2022. The resulting recommendations for action from this debate will be summarised in the Cascading Debates report to be launched in the beginning of 2023.
More information about foraus and One Health at the bottom of the page.

 

CONTEXT

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has been highlighting the need for holistic policy approaches when tackling global challenges such as zoonotic diseases, which are infectious diseases that jump from animals to humans. In parallel, the evidence for environmental challenges and the climate crisis is undeniable, and the way humanity is interacting with the planet needs to change radically, not only to prevent further environmental consequences, but also because the health of the environment has a direct impact on human health. Both One Health and Planetary Health are current and relevant frameworks that explore the link between human and environmental health, while trying to raise awareness and prompting action on associated global challenges.

We need inclusive spaces for discussion and debate on these issues, that bring together perspectives and expertises from different stakeholder groups. With this multistakeholder insight, one can achieve better and more effective solutions for global challenges.

With its project “One Health” for the Future, foraus is exploring zoonoses, AMR, and food safety and security threats – three major phenomena which One Health aims at preventing and addressing. After envisioning dystopian scenarios around these phenomena in an open online workshop that took place in April 2022, this workshop brought together experts from diverse fields to develop ideas of local, national and international recommendations for action.

PROCESS

The workshop gathered 30 participants from civil society organisations, general public, health-related fields, Science Engagement practitioners, and scientific institutions.
After a brief introduction about foraus, the Cascading Debates project, as well as approach and methodology of the workshop, participants were grouped according to their interests into three thematic groups: zoonoses, AMR, and food safety & security threats.

Each group was presented with a different dystopian scenario for the year 2050. The zoonoses dystopia poses a scenario focused on uncontrolled ecosystem destruction and pollution fragmentation, as well as pandemic outbreaks resulting from increased industrial livestock production. The AMR dystopia poses a scenario focused on a public health crisis, with untreatable diseases and high mortality rates, as a consequence of antimicrobial resistance. The food safety and security threat dystopia poses a scenario focused on nutrient depletion and diet-related diseases caused by the low consumption of certain food items that are inaccessible for consumption due to a global viral contamination.

After reading through the scenario, participants noted down two thoughts that struck them the most. All participants shared their thoughts and the notes were clustered in groups. Subgroups for each cluster were formed to develop recommendations for action in order to avoid the threats outlined in each scenario. Two questions prompted the group discussion:

  • What policies/approaches are needed at political, legislative, financial, scientific and/or technical levels to prevent the scenarios from happening?
  • Which policy steps should be taken in the next 30 years and by which actors?

The resulting ideas of recommendations for action were directly uploaded into the policy-crowdsourcing platform Policy Kitchen, enabling further and new comments and additions on the ideas generated for a period of two weeks. Access and download the overview on the ideas of recommendations for action by clicking on the button below. These ideas were also showcased on the project brief “One Health for the Future: Three Pathways Against Future Crises”.

In the end, the groups briefly presented their ideas. As one can read in the document above, most ideas have a strong focus on policymaking changes, as well as awareness raising, and implementation of better and more effective frameworks or management structures that implement and monitor policy successfully. The groups also presented ideas targeting different stakeholder groups (policymakers, funding institutions, private business, citizens, etc.) and areas of focus (policy, funding, environment, public health, societal behaviour, interaction environment-humans), which raises the importance of collaborative and transdisciplinary efforts among different expertises and fields. Also due to this need, several groups came up with ideas on recommendations for action that promote local, national, international collaboration and pool on the expertise of different stakeholder groups.

DEBRIEFING & FEEDBACK

The Geneva Health Forum was a great venue to attract participants with a diverse background in terms of age and level of expertise. The workshop was very well received and participants were very satisfied with the process. The solution-oriented approach and the possibility to discuss practices with participants from different backgrounds were highlighted.
Participants were already familiar with links between environmental and human health, on a global level and on their personal lives. The increasing frequency of climate changes like droughts, floods, storms and heavy rainfall patterns, and their impact on human lives, as well as mental health conditions, such as climate anxiety, were some of the identified links. Participants also mentioned they worry about the lack of effective action towards tackling challenges associated with Planetary Health, namely the time lag between the moment scientific evidence is published and policy is created, and consequent policy implementation. When asked about changes one can implement to foster change and promote Planetary Health, some participants mentioned changes in their daily behaviour to meet Planetary Health needs, namely through diet changes (e.g. vegetarian or vegan), waste reduction (e.g. low consumerism and reuse of materials), and changes in mobility habits (e.g. avoid driving, use of public transportation, avoid flying). Participants also mentioned they see an increasing need to raise awareness on Planetary Health without trying to make non-scientists understand all details about scientific evidence.

ABOUT FORAUS & ONE HEALTH

foraus is an independent think tank, which supports decision-makers and the general public in opinion formation and decision-making with scientifically based, constructive recommendations for action. One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach used by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – working at the local, regional, national, and global levels – with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. This Cascading Debate was part of foraus’ participatory project “One Health” for the Future.

 

COMMENT

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