Woman sitting at a lake in Northern Norway Biodiversity and human health: What’s a holistic approach to good health? 2 June 2020BiodiversityConservation of Arctic Flora and FaunaSustainable Development Working Group Good health is not the mere absence of diseases. It is the result of a complex interplay between factors influencing our daily lives and the surrounding environment. However, increased human activities resulting in the loss of natural habitats imperil both healthy ecosystems and healthy humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines human health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, linking a person’s health status closely to social, economic, behavioral and environmental aspects. This holistic understanding of health is especially important during a global health crisis, such as the current coronavirus pandemic. The “One Health” concept, links human, animal and environmental health. This approach adopts an all- encompassing understanding of health. It aims to develop and sustain collaboration across disciplines and knowledge systems to identify, prevent, and manage health risks in humans, animals and their shared environment. This intrinsic connection was also emphasized by Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the Acting Executive Secretary of the CBD. In her statement published on the occasion of World Health Day on 7 April 2020, Ms Maruma Mrema points to the value of the One Health approach – especially in light of the current pandemic. While recognizing the needs for immediate, short-term action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, she urges: “the lessons learned from COVID-19 and other epidemics also point to the need for concerted action supported by a long-term vision; one that enables us to fundamentally transform our collective understanding of, and relationship with, the natural world, to prevent, insofar as possible, future pandemic outbreaks.” “We humans have a complex relationship with our environment and all microorganisms, animals, and plants within our ecosystems. One Health builds upon these intricate connections and approaches health issues in a holistic manner, reflecting ecosystem linkages and interdependencies”, states Prof Arja Rautio from the University of Oulu, Finland, and member of the Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group’s (SDWG) Arctic Human Health Expert Group.