The Planetary Health Alliance
Modern rates of species extinction are estimated to be 100 to 10,000 times greater than background rates. The urgent imperative to understand, monitor, and mitigate biodiversity loss is reflected in both the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2020. These global goals address habitat loss, climate change, overexploitation, and introduction of invasive species, but they say little about infectious disease. Conservation efforts that disregarded epidemic threats to biodiversity will be necessary but not sufficient to stop species declines. Here we present eight policy recommendations to mobilize a Planetary Health approach toward baseline assessment and monitoring of pathogens in threatened species. These recommendations include strengthening alliances between the WHO-OIE-FAO Tripartite Agreement and the IUCN Species Survival group, conducting baseline pathogen assessments of threatened species, and linking reporting systems to make responses more effective.
Background: Global environmental change is projected to negatively impact food security and increase undernutrition. In the Mekong basin, the depletion of fish stocks, diversion of freshwater for energy production, and threats to biodiversity particularly jeopardize the livelihoods and food access of rural households dependent on integrated rice production and fishing. Community Fish Refuges represent an innovative strategy designed to increase fish production and support food access in the face of these environmental changes. Community Fish Refuges are community-managed natural areas that are enhanced to provide improved fish habitat and governed to monitor water use and prevent illegal fishing. Enmeshed in rice field fisheries, refuges provide a buffer against variable rainfall and Mekong water flow by contributing a new source of fish.
Methods: Study Design WorldFish Cambodia supported 40 Community Fish Refuges purposively selected in Siem Reap, Pursat, Battambang, and Kampong Thom provinces. The water quality, biodiversity and biomass of fish and other aquatic animals in each refuge were monitored every 3 months over 3 years. Management committee actions were recorded and quality was assessed annually.
Analysis: Using fixed-effect panel regression models we analyze the effects of inter-annual environmental change, community governance, and biophysical modifications on Community Fish Refuge fish biomass and biodiversity.
Findings: Preliminary results suggest seasonal and inter-annual effects of flooding have strong effects on fish biodiversity and biomass. Further, the characteristics of individual fish refuges substantially shape the quantity and types of fish.
Interpretation: Our results suggest that Community Fish Refuges are a promising strategy to increase the availability of fish amid a changing environment. Moreover, the biomass and biodiversity of fish provided by refuges will play an important role in shaping the income, fish consumption, and food security of local households (analyses in progress). In assessing a strategy to buffer the effects of environmental change on food security and nutrition, our research addresses a pressing need to combat and reverse the negative impacts of environmental changes on planetary health through improved resource governance.
Global efforts to reduce deforestation and conserve biodiversity require accurate information about their effectiveness. We investigated whether a Protected Area (PA), a command and control approach, and Payments for Environmental Services (PES), an incentive based mechanism, are complementary actions to reduce forest and habitat loss. Even in an area of weak governance and low conservation commitment, the PA prevented large-scale development and population growth and PES motivated local communities living within and around the PA to reduce logging and to adopt conservation and health promoting behaviors. We conclude that an incentive based mechanism is a complementary action that underlies the effectiveness of a command and control approach.