Science policy challenges for biodiversity, public health and urbanisation: examples from Belgium

In science, policy, governance and practice, the connections between a number of major global crises is increasingly recognised. Issues in food and nutrition security, global public health, energy and climate change, economic stability, population and biodiversity are frequently interlinked – in their root or proximate causes, in their impacts, and in the approaches needed to address them. Within this context, there is a pressing need for a harmonised approach to the challenges of human health, increasing urbanisation and biodiversity loss.

This is the argument made in a recent paper published in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters, co-authored by the Executive Director of the COHAB Initiative Secretariat and a team of scientists from Europe.  Science–policy challenges for biodiversity, public health and urbanization: examples from Belgium discusses the current state of knowledge and political responses to the links between health and biodiversity in the context of increased human urbanisation, and asks how such interconnected problems can be met into the future.  Focusing on Belgium, one of Europe’s most urbanised countries, the authors provide an overview of a number of public health issues related to biodiversity and the urban environment, including parasitic diseases, bacterial and viral infections, and mental health.

Park Royale, Brussels, Belgium. Photo credit: 2013, C Kretsch / COHAB

The paper also provides a brief overview of an emerging interdisciplinary initiative, the Belgian Community of Practice on Biodiversity and Public Health, led by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform.  It is hoped that the paper will promote further discussion of the issues and encourage new initiatives throughout Europe and elsewhere.


> Keune, H., Kretsch, C., De Blust, G., et al (2013). Science–policy challenges for biodiversity, public health and urbanization: examples from Belgium. Environmental Research Letters 8 025015











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