One Health Governance in Australia and Beyond

One Health is a framework for public health that is growing in international and domestic significance. One Health is a concept that encourages scientists, governments, policymakers, and other relevant practitioners to consider human, animal, and environmental/ecosystem health as interconnected when making decisions regarding public health. The concept has been explicitly called on to assist in the prevention, detection, and response of existing and emerging diseases. However, its potential is much broader.

One Health has been at the forefront of a new Pandemic Treaty and within International Organisations. The World Health Organisation has created a One Health High-Level Expert Panel to advise them in One Health matters, and the remaining quadripartite members (the United Nations Environment Program, Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health) have new One Health groups, collaborations and policies. For example, the United Nations Environment Program has established the Nature4Health program, of which Dr Katie Woolaston is on the Technical Advisory Board. Many States are creating new One Health ministries and governmental organisations. Within Australia, the proposed Centre for Disease Control has a strong One Health focus.

The Environmental and Social Governance Research Group has a strong One Health focus in their research, leadership and engagement. For example, Dr Katie Woolaston was a co-author on the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Workshop Report on Biodiversity and Pandemics. She has also provided a policy brief to the Federal Government regarding Australia’s One Health priorities and has published the results of that research, with Dr Hope Johnson in a top-rated international journal.

Dr Woolaston and Associate Professor Bridget Lewis have also been involved in providing advice to governmental agencies on a new international Pandemic Treaty, as well as a proposed Australian Centre for Disease Control. They have published some of their relevant thoughts as stand-alone articles and as letters and commentary in Science and Nature.

Current projects continue to engage with the One Health paradigm. For example, with Murdoch University, Dr Katie Woolaston and Professor Amanda Kennedy are conducting an examination of Environmental Insecurity Risks in the IndoPacific, focusing particularly on environmental and social drivers of disease outbreaks. This project engages and collaborates with governments, NGOs, regional organizations, academia, and industry leaders in the IndoPacific to examine how anticipated environmental security threats including food security and emerging diseases, influence socio-cultural, economic and political instability through virtual and face-to-face workshops. It will identify strategic opportunities for enhanced environmental diplomacy and deliver defence policy commentary and academic papers. An additional project is being conducted in partnership with the federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, titled ‘Mapping One Health Activities and Expertise in Australian Governance’.

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