Stakeholders meet virtually to discuss shared plans for One Health Challenge

By Foster Obi

The CGIAR Two Degree Initiative for Food and Agriculture recently organized an online stakeholder consultation to articulate a shared vision, outcomes, and outputs around the One-Health collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach.

The approach aims to work at the local, regional, national, and global levels to achieve optimal health outcomes while recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.

The online consultation, attended by more than 100 key stakeholders, explored the steps towards operationalizing the initiative in 16 sub-Saharan African countries.

In his opening remarks, IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga commented on the importance of tackling the adverse effects of climate change and climate-driven and emerging biological risks. He said that the establishment of the Biorisk Management Facility (BIMAF) in Benin is part of efforts by IITA and partners towards contributing to the One-Health approach.

According to Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio, Action Track Co-Manager, Global Commission on Adaptation at the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Two Degree Initiative seeks to approach research-for-development differently (demand-driven, coordinated) and not just deliver scientific evidence but do outreach, capacity building, communication, engagement, and participatory research towards delivering end-to-end results.

“The initiative is also looking to mobilize more funding to ensure resources are available to deliver the needed innovations in the region,” she stated.

While looking at reforming research-development-deployment pathways, employing an interdisciplinary, intersectional food systems approach, the Two Degree Initiative for Food and Agriculture will also improve tools and communication for policymakers, collaborate with private companies, leverage digital technologies, strengthen co-creation along value chains, and prioritize transformation approaches.

Pests, diseases, and other biotic stresses are major threats to the health of crops, livestock, humans, and ecosystems, which even now has been convoluted by the recent coronavirus pandemic. According to discussions during the event, climate change dynamics will affect the distribution and dynamics of such pests and diseases; this will also disrupt complex interactions and tradeoffs between different ecosystems, with huge and adverse economic implications.

The advanced climate-informed One-Health approach is building on CGIAR’s track record to frame the nexus of crop, livestock, human and ecosystem health, pest and disease epidemiology and control, food production, safety and nutrition, and climate change as a complex public health issue to proffer a field-grounded, conceptually refined response to the scale of this global challenge.

As part of the online stakeholder consultation, knowledge-sharing sessions were organized to explore the countries’ capacity gaps and how the four priorities can address these existing gaps.

The four strategic priorities were discussed in alignment with national priorities and how partnerships can strengthen the lack of very effective linkages within the Research-Extension-Farmer interface. These priorities include Horizon scanning and building early warning & rapid response systems; Managing climate-driven biorisks; Harnessing high throughput technologies for food safety and health for megacities in West Africa; and Mainstreaming biorisk management into national and regional development programs.