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Programme > Plenary Sessions

Session 1


Biodiversity and Poverty & Health


Poverty and health, addressed by the Millennium Development Goals 1 (Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger) and 6 (Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases) are directly linked to each other and to biodiversity. There are numerous well-known relationships between biodiversity, human health and poverty, highlighted by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment as ecosystem services. Thus, the functional integrity of ecosystems guarantees for various ecosystem services such as the provision of food, fiber, genetic resources and natural medicines, the climate regulation, soil fertility and water purification as well as recreational opportunities. Correspondingly, the loss of biodiversity increases poverty, the vulnerability of ecosystem processes and functions as well as a spread of diseases. Thus, the concept of “One Health”, postulating that there is no human health without ecosystem health gets increasingly more supporters and suggests that protecting biodiversity is also a contribution to poverty reduction and to an improvement of public health. On the other hand, protecting and maintaining a high biodiversity may also be in conflict with MDGs 1 and 6: Reduction of poverty and improvement of health frequently go hand in hand with more intense land-use and energy consumption and thus may aggravate the actual biodiversity loss. Whether there is synergy or conflict between biodiversity and poverty & health is obviously also a matter of scales in time and space. On shorter time and smaller spatial scales the conflict potential may predominate whereas synergy effects will become more relevant with long-term and large scale perspectives.

Among others, the session and associated workshops will focus on the following questions:

  • To what extent are poverty and health related problems drivers of biodiversity loss?
  • How do changes of biodiversity affect poverty and health of communities?
  • How can ecosystem services be used to reduce poverty and improve health?
  • What strategies exist to minimize the conflict between food production and biodiversity protection?
  • How relevant is the protection of agrobiodiversity and how can it be achieved?
  • What is the potential of natural medicine and indigenous knowledge?
  • To what extend do changes of distribution areas of pathogens and vectors, caused by environmental and climate change, aggravate health problems?