This Issue Brief provides a critical mapping of the various concepts proposing to integrate human health into its animal and ecological environment, of their strengths and weaknesses, from the angle of effective integration of the dimensions of sustainable development, and of their implementation in policy.

Key Message

  • The One Health approach, and the tripartite association between the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), held great promise for integrating all dimensions of the problem raised by the risk of human infectious diseases of animal origin (zoonoses). However, this concept has remained poorly integrative, favouring a veterinary infectiological approach, without real capacity to address the environmental dimensions, and without giving rise to policy instruments.
  • Health ecology, Ecohealth in English, is still too focused on the analysis of environmental risk factors for human health, but does not propose an approach that integrates health, veterinary and ecological management models.
  • The Global Health approach reflects a strong awareness of the interrelationships between globalisation and human health, but remains primarily focused on the individual and medicine. 
  • Finally, the concept Planetary Health starts from the recognition of the planetary boundaries to propose an integrative approach, focusing in particular on the social dimensions of health, but without leading to concrete and successful recommendations.
  • It therefore seems difficult to truly integrate the three dimensions of human, animal and environmental health, and to put into policy the concepts, possibly innovative and ambitious, that have been put forward over the last twenty years to propose progress in this field. This kind of policy implementation suggests the need for a policy at the level where the effectiveness of the prevention of the next pandemic will be located: integrated and multilateral.
  • To this end, a multilateral policy and programming mechanism is to be hoped for, based on the model of a United Nations Convention such as the Convention on the Law of the Sea, or a cross-cutting action programme such as the one on water, UN-Water.
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4 pages
  • Serge Morand,
  • Jean-François Guégan,
  • Yann Laurans