The Community of Practice on Biodiversity and Public Health in Belgium is a group of experts from a diversity of fields: natural and social scientists, policy-makers, practitioners and other stakeholders. The Community of Practice aims to:
- Build a strong network and stimulate capacity building
- Produce an overview of the current state of Belgian knowledge regarding Biodiversity and Public Health
- Respond to the demands of policy makers and stakeholders regarding Biodiversity and Public Health expertise at a Belgian level, as well as the international level; in the context of the establishment of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
The Belgian Community of Practice on Biodiversity & Health was created in 2011. Our activities focus on assessing the current state of knowledge on biodiversity and health in Belgium and beyond. We also work on producing information documents presenting Belgian knowledge regarding Biodiversity and Health. We organise events and other activities to stimulate the creation and sharing of knowledge among experts across disciplines and practices. We also take stock of the current gaps of knowledge in order to assess which research priorities should be targeted to address current gaps.
As is noticed within the Belgian context and also illustrated internationally by e.g. the 2015 State of Knowldege Review on Biodiversity & Human Health, in large part, the biodiversity and health sectors have worked separately to achieve their respective goals. To better integrate biodiversity and health in research, policy and practice, the adoption of inter- and transdisciplinary approaches that incorporate contributions from both the social and natural sciences, and from policy and practice is needed. One Health is one of the approaches that aims to bridge human health and the health of other species or ecosystems to address complex challenges faced by the global health and environmental communities. Our Community of Practice is therefore particularly active in ensuring that more interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research is being undertaken to better assess the links between biodiversity and health, and more generally in raising awareness on the concept of OneHealth in Belgium.
The understanding of the interlinkages between biodiversity and health has gained momentum over the years, yet it remains a challenge to ensure decision-makers in policy and practice fully grasp the concept and its multiple facets. By creating a space for knowledge-sharing and mutual understanding across sectors, we intend to not only incubate knowledge but also to shape robust integrated policies, practices and integrated calls for research. In this regard, we work on ensuring that the importance of human health interlinkages with biodiversity gain attention in science, policy and society at large. We also call for the public health sector to move from the current tendency to apply curative rather than preventive interventions. In Belgium, we have been able to bring support to Belspo in advising on the needs for more research on biodiversity and health, while regional entities have also started to take actions on biodiversity and health. At the intergovernmental level, we have been contributing on health issues in the context of IPBES and SBSTTA.
The Belgian Community of Practice on Biodiversity & Health promotes new linkages and collaboration amongst a variety of disciplines. Our network is currently composed of professionals representing various fields:
We are particularly active in collaborating with policy institutions (e.g. The Province of Antwerp, the Flemish Agency for Nature and Forest), research institutions (e.g. Antwerp University, Scientific Institute for Public Health, UCL, RBINS, KULeuven, the Belgian Superior Health Council, the National Botanical Garden), NGOs (e.g. Natuurpunt, BOS+) and many more organisations and individuals.
WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME?
- Join our experts registry (you will be informed on projects and events, and you will be contacted as expert to respond to ad-hoc requests received from Belgian and international public authorities or other organisations)
- Join our mailing list to receive our newsletter to be kept informed of developments, projects and events in Belgium; and to get informed on international developments in a concise manner
- Attend our events so you can expand your network with experts of various fields and reach out to new perspectives, get out of your comfort zone, and get the bigger picture
- Help us shape the development of research, policy and practice agenda through various of our activities, including our work focusing on creating potential future calls for integrated research on biodiversity and health
- Get opportunity to publish papers following our events
- For more information, please contact our social scientist expert facilitating the Community of Practice on Biodiversity & Health: Dr Hans Keune.