The Cost of Inaction – The Importance of Pandemic Prevention at the Source

The Alliance Secretariat hosted the side event “The Cost of Inaction – The Importance of Pandemic Prevention at the Source”, on Saturday 16th October at the World Health Summit 2022 in Berlin. The panelists represented various spheres within a One Health approach, emphasizing on a holistic perspective to bolster pandemic prevention at the source to reduce costs and provide co-benefits to climate and biodiversity.  

You may click on the following link to watch the recorded session on YouTube: 

WS 06 – The Cost of Inaction – The Importance of Pandemic Prevention at the Source – YouTube 

Prof. Andy Dobson, Dr. Catherine Machalaba and Dr. Eckart v. Hirschhausen at the World Health Summit.
About the panelists: 

Prof. Dr. Andrew Dobson 

Princeton University | Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology | Professor | United States of America 

Jochen Flasbarth 

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) | State Secretary | Germany 

Dr. Catherine Machalaba 

EcoHealth Alliance | Senior Policy Advisor and Senior Scientist | United States of America 

Dr. María Neira 

World Health Organization (WHO) | Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health | Director 

Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen 

Physician, Science Journalist, Founder of Healthy Planet – Healthy People Foundation and World Health Summit Ambassador | Germany 

Dr. María Neira and Jochen Flasbarth at World Health Summit 2022, Berlin, Germany & Digital, October 16-18, 2022. Photo: World Health Summit
About the event: 

Scientists calculate the cost of preventing further pandemics – via forest protection and improved wildlife trade regulation – over the next decade would amount to just 2% of the estimated financial damage caused by COVID-19. Such prevention strategies would also come with considerable co-benefits for climate and biodiversity. Research shows the proportion of pathogens crossing from one stage to the next, from pre-emergence to pandemic stage decreases as the costs for stopping those increases. In this inverse correlation: the earlier we prevent, the more cost-efficient it is. 

Yet attention is currently focused on later-stage prevention, preparedness and response. According to WHO’s Cristina Romanelli, only 3% of current efforts to stop future pandemics goes to primary prevention (pre-spillover), while the remaining 97% is invested in secondary prevention and preparedness measures. 

In the wake of immediate reactions to COVID-19 – most of which were taken under immense pressure to respond to and manage an ongoing crisis – many key actors, are now contemplating how to avoid and handle possible future pandemics more intelligently, efficiently and effectively. Considering this challenge, we ask: How can lessons learned from COVID-19 and primary prevention take a more prominent role in global responses to reduce the risk of future pandemics? What would such a policy path look like? And how might it incorporate regulations in line with WHO’s Manifesto (“Prescriptions for a healthy and green recovery from COVID-19”) that recognize the incredible opportunity for investments contributing to solving the triple, intersecting crises of health, climate and biodiversity? 

Screening review: “Breaking Boundaries – the Science of our Planet” with J. Rockström

Documentary screening review with Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström, joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) Germany and Tanja Gönner, Chair of the Management Board of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). 

The Earth’s boundaries have already been pushed far beyond stable living conditions. Still, there is room for cautious optimism. But the window for action is closing rapidly.  

During the film screening of the acclaimed documentary “Breaking Boundaries – the science of our Planet” at the GIZ Berlin Representation, participants learned about planetary boundaries which indicate the safe operating space for humanity.  

Prof. Johan Rockström introduced the concept of planetary boundaries in 2009. In the movie, he defines 9 parameters, including climate change, water and land use, as boundaries that represent crucial tipping points on which humanity’s existence depends. The documentary approaches the complex topic through a creative way with touching images and stories.  

After the film screening, the on-site and online participants had the chance to ask questions to both panelists, followed by a lively discussion facilitated by Maike Voss, Director of the Center for Planetary Health Policy. Prof. Rockström stressed that the global community cannot wait for a new era to arise. The current economic paradigm needs to be changed because it does not respond to the needs of a global transition towards sustainability within a safe operating space.  Furthermore, it is of utmost importance to integrate local communities and their knowledge into the transition to a sustainable future for the planet and all living beings. The knowledge required is already there, but it urgently needs to be translated into policies and actions. Tanja Gönner pointed out during her input the active role of GIZ and the Alliance to contribute to this goal.  

With the film screening, the Alliance aimed to sensitize various audiences for the concept of planetary boundaries and to amplify the discourse on the environmental limits of our planet and translating science into action. 

For further insights please have a look at the video documentation:

Film Screening of ‘Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet’

Wednesday, October 12th, 2022, at 17:30 CEST

online and at the GIZ offices, Reichpietschufer 20, 10785 Berlin.

The Alliance Secretariat is organizing a hybrid screening of the acclaimed documentary “Breaking Boundaries” on October 12th: high-level guests and GIZ board member Ms. Tanja Gönner will discuss essential consequences with Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). With this event we take to opportunity to learn about the safe operating space for humanity and discuss the environment-health-nexus at which the work of the International Alliance is embedded, with Johan Rockström.

At 17:45 CEST you may click on the following link to enter the Livestream

About the event

Following the film screening, Prof. Rockström will enter a discussion with you and invited guests. We are looking forward to exploring and debating possible consequences and recommendations to the German politics in general, and German development cooperation in particular. This open and frank discussion should bring to light opportunities but also the real challenges we are now facing considering this evidence. The event will be held in English with:

  • Prof. Johan Rockström, Co-Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), exploring and debating with
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Sabine Gabrysch, Professor for Climate change and Health, Charité, and
  • Ms. Tanja Gönner, Chair, Management Board of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH,
  • facilitated by Maike Voss, Director, Center for Planetary Health Policy (CPHP), and Managing Director, Allianz Klimawandel und Gesundheit (KLUG).

About the film

Breaking Boundaries featuring Sir David Attenborough and Professor Johan Rockström explores the science behind the impact humanity has had on Earth since the dawn of civilization, revealing an urgent truth about the health of our planet. The film details just how far we’ve pushed Earth beyond the boundaries that have kept our planet stable for millennia, and what steps need to be taken to turn things around. At the core of Breaking Boundaries lies a key message of action: stay innovative, cooperate, and make the next decade one that safeguards the future of our planet. The science is clear on what humanity needs to do. Only when we listen to these facts – and pay attention to the undeniable urgency – can we create a future where nature and people thrive.

POSTPONED: Expert Talk on Radical Listening with Kinari Webb – Health In Harmony

New Date Coming Coon

Indigenous peoples make up just 5% of the world’s population, yet they manage 25% of the earth’s land and support 80% of the earth’s biodiversity. Tropical forest protection is key to lowering the Earth’s temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius and meeting the pledge set forth by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. Appropriate mechanisms must be identified to create a trustworthy environment to listen, learn and understand the importance of being guided by Indigenous and local communities to be able to develop inclusive and effective lines of action for primary pandemic prevention. Radical Listening is an example of contextualizing the perspectives of rainforest communities as implemented by Health in Harmony.

Internationally coordinated and cooperative approaches to identify and reduce health risks from our distorted relationship with nature and wildlife must be inclusive and respectful of Indigenous knowledge systems and their communities needs and traditions.To create a platform to foster exchange, aiming to reduce the risk of future pandemics, the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade is cordially inviting you to the upcoming

Expert Talk with Kinari Webb

New Date will be announced soon.

By partnering with local organizations and governments, Health In Harmony works alongside 135,000 Indigenous, Traditional, and rainforest peoples, protecting over 8.8 million hectares of high-conservation value rainforest in Indonesia, Madagascar, and Brazil.

Kinari Web will explore how this approach relates to the Alliance’s work, what insights from Health in Harmony’s scientifically confirmed work should be included in regulatory frameworks, and what conclusions might be drawn for members of the Alliance.

About the speaker
Kinari Webb, MD, is the founder of Health In Harmony, an international nonprofit dedicated to reversing global heating, understanding that rainforests are essential for the survival of humanity, and a cofounder of Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI). Dr. Webb graduated from Yale University School of Medicine with honors and currently splits her time between Indonesia, international site assessments, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Her debut novel, Guardians of the Trees, was released in 2021.

About the Alliance
The International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade serves as an inclusive and interdisciplinary platform to discuss challenges and formulate solutions vis-á-vis human-wildlife interfaces and associated health risks and the emergence and spread of zoonotic pathogens from wildlife. The Alliance is aiming to enhance international and national awareness, knowledge, policies and action, not least by narrowing the gap between science and implementation.

We are very much looking forward to jointly learning from Kinari Webbs findings. Please feel free to forward and share this invitation (PDF attached) with interested colleagues.

‘Voices from the Ground’

with Wildlife Research & Training Institute Kenya: Addressing wildlife meat trade and associated health risks in Kenya.

The Alliance’s online series Voices from the Ground format is exclusively for Alliance members and represents the diversity of local realities. Together we will create a safe space that is trustworthy to share experiences, solutions and challenges and shall foster the exchange within the Alliance community. This new format will give you the opportunity to talk about practical challenges and solutions on the ground, such as questions deriving from economic dependence from wildlife trade, cultural and religious values and traditions and Indigenous Peoples knowledge systems. An important topics could also be the problematical implementation of policies – so that all voices will be heard! 

Join our next “Voices from the Ground Session” with WRTI Kenya 

on Thursday, July 14th 2022 at 2:00pm CEST
click here to join the meeting

About the event:

The Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI) has been established with the understanding that wildlife research agenda needs to be more focused to provide reliable scientific information on emerging wildlife conservation and management challenges. The speakers from various backgrounds will share their insights and experiences about working along the wildlife meat and trade spectrum in Kenya and associated health risks.

The session will be moderated by Dr. Winnie Kiiru – chairperson of Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI), founder of Conservation Kenya, chairperson of the Wildlife Research Institute in Naivasha.

The speakers will be:

  • Dr. Francis Gakuya – about health risks associated with bushmeat harvesting, trade and consumption, Principal Scientist and Head, Veterinary Science and Laboratories, WRTI.
  • Dr. Moses Otiende – about forensics, identification of wildlife meat and challenges encountered in Kenya, Senior Forensic Analyst and Head, Forensic and Genetics Laboratory, WRTI.
  • Mr. Isaac Maina  – about the indirect relationship between snaring and wildlife off-takes and harvesting in Kenya, African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW).
  • Naomi Wanja Njihia – about the community perspective on bushmeat consumption and trade, Rangelands Officer at Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association.
  • Mr. Maurice Omondi – about the law enforcement against illegal bushmeat harvesting, consumption and trade, principal investigation officer with Kenya Wildlife Service

If you and your partners are also interested in contributing to a “Voices from the Ground Session”, please let us know.

We are delighted to host this session with WRTI Kenya and are enthusiastic to have a broad exchange within the Alliance community. 

Expert Talk on how wildlife movement data could help in preventing the spread of infectious diseases with Martin Wikelski

August 23rd at 14:00 – 15:15 CEST

About this Event

Identifying and reducing human health risks from wildlife trade within a One Health framework needs an internationally coordinated and cooperative approach. Preventing future pandemic outbreaks will need to also address health risks in dealing with wildlife trade, contact and potential spillover, and thus prevention at the source. To create a platform to foster exchange, aiming to reduce the risk of future pandemics, the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade is cordially inviting you to the upcoming

As the founding Director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and Professor in Biology at the University of Konstanz, Prof. Dr. Martin Wikelski investigates global animal movement with the goal of creating an intelligent sensor network of animals—the “Internet of Animals”—and protecting animals worldwide. He has pioneered a system for continuously tracking thousands of animals from space, ICARUS, and in doing so has opened up a frontier in harnessing animal observation as a tool for conservation and more effective management of and response to health risks. Martin Wikelski will share some of the latest data on animal movement around the planet. He will highlight how this helps us to preserve biodiversity, to secure our global food supplies, to anticipate pandemics and potentially to predict natural disasters. Previously, he worked at, among others, University of Washington, Seattle, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Princeton University.

‘Voices from the Ground’

with WCS Viet Nam: Addressing health risks associated with wildlife trade in Viet Nam.

The Alliance’s new online series Voices from the Ground format is exclusively for Alliance members and represents the diversity of local realities. This format will create a safe space that is trustworthy to share experiences, solutions and challenges and shall foster the exchange within the Alliance community. During these session incongruences between science and implementation, theory and practice, including Indigenous Peoples knowledge, can be addressed. As well as practical challenges and solutions on the ground, such as questions deriving from economic dependence from wildlife trade, cultural and religious values and traditions, or the faulty implementation of policies shall be discussed – so that all voices will be heard! 

Join our 1st “Voices from the Ground Session” with WCS Viet Nam 

on Thursday, May 12th 2022 at 2:00pm CEST
click here to join the meeting

About the event:

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is implementing One Health approaches in field programs around the world, with local teams working at the nexus of climate change, maintenance of intact ecosystems, wildlife trade and health. Commercial wildlife trade has been widely recognized as a major risk factor for the emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential. Addressing wildlife trade as a key driver of infectious disease emergence demands a comprehensive, collaborative, dynamic and multisectoral approach, working with a variety of partners and stakeholders at local, regional, national and global levels. In this session, we will share experiences from Viet Nam by hosting a panel of local experts who have contributed to research led by WCS investigating pathogens of pandemic potential and examining the health risks associated with the wildlife trade. Panelists will share findings from their efforts to understand, mitigate, and prevent disease emergence associated with the wildlife trade, through research, policy, and conservation work. The panelists will outline the early success of Viet Nam’s interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder, and science-driven approach to researching and understanding the complexity of health risks associated with wildlife supply chains. The moderated discussion will explore opportunities to expand the One Health approach to address complex issues at the human-wildlife-environment interface.  

Panelists and Speakers:

The panel will be led by Ms. Hoang Bich Thuy – Country Director, Wildlife Conservation Society, Viet Nam Program.  

Speakers will include

Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phuong, Regional Animal Health Office No.6 (RAHO6), Department of Animal Health,  

Mr. Truong Quang Lam, Viet Nam University of Agriculture,  

Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Nga, WCS Viet Nam program,

Mr. Pham Van Thong, Save Viet Nam’s Wildlife. 

If you and your partners are also interested in contributing to a “Voices from the Ground Session”, please let us know.

We are delighted to kick off our new event series together with you and WCS Vietnam and enthusiastic to see all of you next Thursday. 

CLOSED – Call for Proposals

Dear members*,

we invite you to significantly contribute to the goals** of the “International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade”, and submit a project outline to apply for funding, utilising your expertise, understanding of the underlying challenges, state-of-the art knowledge of existing evidence and ideas for moving forward. Project outlines will have to be submitted by May 16th 2022, end of day CEST.

In terms of specifics, we are inviting proposals on two distinct TOPICs: 

TOPIC A 
Using social innovation to move towards the Alliance’s goals. This will involve piloting new approaches and thinking out of the box based on well-founded hypotheses, while tolerating higher risks of failure to achieve intended results and impacts.

TOPIC B 
Translating scientific evidence into policy and regulation towards the Alliance’s goals. This will include interdisciplinary work, putting policy and regulatory considerations centre stage, while understanding how best to factor in aspects of behaviour and incentives when translating science into policy. 

And two different FORMATs: 

FORMAT A 
Your proposed project works as stand-alone, to be realised by a consortium already assembled.

FORMAT B 
Your proposal covers only part of a larger envisioned project; it includes an outline to what additional complementary expertise/ competence/ infrastructure/ equipment you are seeking to include in the overall proposal.

By May 31st 2022, a limited number of outlines will be selected to move forward, requesting further elaboration of final full proposals.

Please find detailed information and the application template to download here.

*Note that participation requirements are linked to a membership in the Alliance. Only members of the Alliance have the right to apply for the call. If you have any further questions, also on the process of how to become a member, please do not hesitate to contact us.

**The members of Alliance are committed to unite resources to achieve the following goals:  

  • Substantially reducing the risks of zoonotic spillover and stepping up responses (including behavioral changes) to human and animal health risks caused by direct and indirect contact with wildlife and their products along the wildlife trade chain.
  • Enhancing international and national awareness, knowledge, and policies with regards to the first goal, thus narrowing the gap between science and implementation 

Recording: Expert Talk with Nicole Redvers

April 28th 2022 at 16:00 – 17:30 CEST

About this Event

Identifying and reducing human health risks from wildlife trade needs an internationally coordinated and cooperative approach. To this end, the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade serves as an inclusive and interdisciplinary platform to discuss challenges and formulate solutions vis-á-vis human-wildlife interfaces and associated health risks. In order to prevent future pandemic outbreaks there is the urge of shifting actions towards a more long-term perspective rather than only focussing on immediate crisis management. Thats why one major area will be to address health risks in dealing with wildlife trade to prevent potential spillover events at the source.

During this online session, Dr. Nicole Redvers provided insights on the wildlife contact and trade related discussion. She elaborated on inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and international protection mechanisms. These mechanisms need to be considered when developing and operationalizing processes that may affect Indigenous cultural identity, traditional knowledges, and practices as it pertains to wildlife subsistence. She also talked about potential implications within the One Health and greater Planetary Health approaches to deal with complex problems.

About the Speaker

Dr. Nicole Redvers, ND, MPH, is a member of the Deninu K’ue First Nation in Denendeh (NWT, Canada) and has worked with Indigenous patients, scholars, and communities around the globe her entire career. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Department of Indigenous Health at the University of North Dakota where she helped developed and launch the first Indigenous health PhD program. Dr. Redvers is co-founder and current board chair of the Canadian charity the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation based in Yellowknife, NWT, providing traditional Indigenous-rooted Land-based wellness supports to northerners.  She has been actively involved at regional, national, and international levels promoting the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in both human and planetary health research and practice. She is author of the trade paperback book titled, ‘The Science of the Sacred: Bridging Global Indigenous Medicine Systems and Modern Scientific Principles’.

Recording: Expert Talk with Catherine Machalaba

March 29th 2022 at 14:30 – 15:45 CEST

About this Event

Identifying and reducing human health risks from wildlife trade needs an internationally coordinated and cooperative approach. To this end, the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade serves as an inclusive and interdisciplinary platform to discuss challenges and formulate solutions vis-á-vis human-wildlife interfaces and associated health risks. In moving from immediate crisis management of the ongoing global pandemic towards a more long-term perspective, many have realized that preventing future pandemic outbreaks will need to also address health risks in dealing with wildlife trade and potential spillover, and thus prevention at the source.

During this online session Dr. Catherine Machalaba gave insights into how to operationalize One Health approaches for more coordinated, preventive, and cost-effective systems that promote human, animal, and environmental health given their integral links. She elaborated on entry points, trade-offs and co-benefits when designing effective policy options, including land use changes, wildlife trade and livestock management, and where to start as a feasible minimum that has to be done.

About the Speaker

Catherine Machalaba is the Principal Scientist for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance. She was a lead author of the World Bank Operational Framework for Strengthening Human, Animal and Environmental Public Health Systems at their Interface (“One Health Operational Framework”) published in 2018 to assist countries and donor institutions in implementing One Health approaches. She is active in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including serving for 10 years as Program Officer for its Species Survival Commission’s Wildlife Health Specialist Group. She is also a member of the One Health High-Level Expert Panel to the FAO, OIE, UNEP, and WHO (OHHLEP). She holds a master’s degree in public health and a PhD in environmental and planetary health sciences.