Pei hosts global One Health Webinar alongside renowned global speakers
Founder and CEO of ACTAsia, Pei Su, recently hosted a dynamic and empowering webinar on the subject of One Health from a food and farming perspective.
The webinar was organised by the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation and involved a number of incredible environmental speakers. ACTAsia’s Communications Director in China, Kayla Kuo, spoke about ACTAsia’s work in the area of One Health and how we can all make a difference to improve the global health of animals, people and the environment.
What is One Health and why is it important?
ACTAsia has been working tirelessly to promote a One Health concept and are delighted that the webinar attracted global speakers addressing the issue. One Health is an approach that recognises that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and our shared environment.
To quote the World Health Organisation:
‘One Health is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes. The areas of work in which a One Health approach is particularly relevant include food safety, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans), and combatting antibiotic resistance.’
Why are we now looking at the importance of One Health?
One Health is not a new concept, but it has become more recognised and understood in recent years. This is because many factors have changed the interactions between people, animals, plants, and our environment. For example: we are witnessing human population growth into new geographic areas where there is close contact with wild animals, climate change is providing opportunities for disease to pass more readily between animals and there has been a marked increase in international trade and travel.
Who attended the ONE Health webinar?
Pei was delighted to welcome the following speakers:
- Laurent Dingli, International Advisor of CBCGDF China & Founder of The International Conservation & Biodiversity Team
- Philip Lymbery, Global Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming International
- James Lomax, Sustainable Food Systems and Agriculture Adviser at UN Environment Programme
- Jeff Zhou, China Chief Representative for Compassion in World Farming
- Wachira Kariuki, Director of Policy & Public Affairs at Africa Network for Animal Welfare
- Kayla Kuo, Director of Communications, China at ACTAsia
What are the issues impacting One Health and importantly what are the solutions?
During the webinar, speakers discussed the consequences of intensive agriculture and fishing and, more generally, the impact of meat, dairy and fish consumption. Areas addressed included:
- Habitat and biodiversity loss
- Soil and ocean pollution
- Climate crisis
- Animal suffering
- Zoonoses and pandemics recurrence
- Reduction in antibiotic resistance
- The obstacles that limit or prevent desirable reforms in this field
Following the high-level discussions, the webinar addressed the solutions envisaged which included: education for consumers, fighting corruption and poverty and the need to adopt a plant-based or cellular meat diet.
ACTAsia’s approach to One Health through education
Kayla, ACTAsia’s Director of Communications, looked at how education can promote One Health. During her presentation, Kayla explained that following ACTAsia’s foundation in extensive research, education was chosen as the path towards change. As Kayla explained:
‘The educational path underpins the change we want to see for animals, people and the environment. Education enables the public to consider and make compassionate choices that are sustainable, deciphering given information and critically thinking about the messages.’
How does ACTAsia promote the One Health concept through education?
ACTAsia works to develop, design and deliver education programmes in Asia, for children, consumers and professionals and has a proven track record of high-quality education as recognised by the UN. The One Health approach has been incorporated in ACTAsia’s Caring for Life education programmes since 2012.
ACTAsia programmes work at the root causes of issues. In China, the concept of animal welfare is little understood and the role of the veterinarian is not fully developed or recognised (or even trusted) by communities. The role of veterinary practitioners is limited and the role for ambassadors, spokespeople and advocates for animal welfare is lacking. Therefore, ACTAsia works to empower through education and build the foundations for highly skilled vets to take up this role, appropriately supporting the One Health movement by representing the animal’s viewpoint.
How does ACTAsia highlight the need to adopt a One Health approach to a wider audience?
Kayla went on to explain that ACTAsia is actively promoting events to highlight One Health. For example, last year ACTAsia celebrated Earth Day with a variety of targeted lessons – reaching 24,500 children across China – by looking at biodiversity and climate change. This year on Earth Day 2022 ACTAsia focused on the issue of microplastics reaching almost 150,000 children and teachers.
Highlighting the importance of food choices
The webinar also addressed the need to examine our diets and how reducing our meat consumption or adopting a plant-based diet can make a meaningful impact on animals, people and the environment – thereby promoting One Health.
Protecting animals: All sentient creatures have a right to life and freedom. Avoiding animal products is one of the easiest ways that people can take a stand against animal cruelty and animal exploitation.
Protecting people: A plant-based diet is a more sustainable – requiring only one third of the land that is needed to support a meat and dairy diet. With rising global food and water insecurity there’s never been a better time to adopt a more sustainable way of living. Avoiding animal products is the simplest way to take a stand against inefficient food systems which disproportionately affect the poorest people all over the world.
Protecting the environment: The production of meat and other animal products creates a huge carbon footprint on the environment – from the production of crops and use of water required to feed animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. The vast amount of grain feed required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction. In Brazil alone, the equivalent of 5.6 million acres of land is used to grow soya beans for animals in Europe. This land contributes to developing world malnutrition by driving impoverished populations to grow cash crops for animal feed, rather than food for themselves.