The COHAB Initiative works to establish mechanisms by which policy makers, researchers, practitioners and stakeholders can effectively communicate and work together, to understand, assess and resolve the issues linking biodiversity and human well-being. In particular, the Initiative works to identify and overcome the conceptual barriers to cross-sectoral understanding and dialogue at government levels, and to build capacity for cooperation and harmonization within and between stakeholders in developed and developing regions.
To promote and facilitate the integration of biodiversity conservation into programmes and activities within the health and development sectors, and to promote further awareness of health and development issues in conservation planning.
To assist in communicating the importance of biodiversity and ecosystems services to decision makers, stakeholders, the private sector and the wider public.
- Identify and address barriers to understanding and effective communication of biodiversity issues in non-environment sectors, and vice-versa
- Increase knowledge and develop an evidence-base on the links between biodiversity and human well-being
- Assist the development of practical measures for adoption of biodiversity considerations within national and international action plans on health, development and the Millennium Development Goals
- Encourage and facilitate the inclusion of health and development issues in local, national and international conservation plans, including programmes of implementation for the Convention on Biological Diversity
To foster and facilitate stronger international, inter-governmental and interdisciplinary communication and cooperation:
- Provide a focal point for clear and accessible information on links between biodiversity and health for policy makers, communities, health practitioners and organisations
- Support and facilitate the development of programmes for public and professional education and training on the issues
- Support the development of practical approaches to addressing the issues at the community level
The COHAB Initiative is an interactive forum for dialogue, communication and experience sharing – but it is only one of a large and growing number of important initiatives addressing the issue of ecosystems and human well-being. The Initiative does not aim to set policy or establish research goals – rather, it works to foster, guide and support holistic approaches to assist sustainable development, and to support other existing networks looking at the range of environment-health linkages. The Initiative is not a financing body, though it works with Partners to identify avenues for funding and to add value to available resources through collaboration and networking.
- Promote and facilitate partnerships, networking and information exchange on issues linking health and biodiversity
- Develop national, regional and international communication forums on the issues
- Support existing networks and initiatives on health-environment linkages through Partnership arrangements
Creating a common understanding between the environmental and non-environmental communities is essential if sustainable development is to be achieved, and if real and positive impacts are to be realised and sustained in protecting ecosystem services for human well-being.
The approach advocated by the COHAB Initiative is based on four key steps:
- Building knowledge based on evidence, experience and lessons learned, and presenting the evidence to stakeholders and decision makers,
- Developing and reinforcing the conceptual framework on health and biodiversity linkages
- Putting knowledge into practice through the use of strategic assessments, ensuring that health-biodiversity relationships are appropriately considered and monitored in the design and development of plans, programmes and policies on health, environment, social welfare and economic development
- Promoting, facilitating and fostering cooperation and collaboration across sectors
This reflects and supports the conservation medicine and ecosystem approaches to health and well-being helping to advance inter-disciplinary communication, understanding and action on these issues.