COVID 19: Information Page


This page includes information on the activities of the platform relevant to the current COVID -19 pandemic and it's relationship with biodiversity, science-policy and human health. 

 

Belgian Biodiversity Platform statement on working during COVID-19 

Through our activities with communities of practice, knowledge brokerage, and open data, the BBPf as a science-policy interface has been addressing and continues to address the major challenges encountered during the Covid-19 crisis.

Resources on understanding the relationship between COVID-19, nature and human health

IUCN Q&A on COVID - 19 

WCS COVID-19 Updates 

Linkages between public health, intellectual property, trade 

The link between Covid-19 and Biodiversity: A report commissioned by the French Public Authorities

How to prevent the next global pandemic

Zoonotic Diseases: What we need to do next

Invasion Science and the Global Spread of SARS-CoV-2

COVID-19 Is a Symptom of a Bigger Problem: Our Planet’s Ailing Health

Conservationists set the record straight on COVID-19’s wildlife links

Pandemics result from destruction of nature, say UN and WHO

World Environment Day: COVID-19 crisis demands fundamental rethink


 

Read about the different kinds of work we do: 

Biodiversity and Health  

On the forefront of our work with Biodiversity and health is the Community of Practice on Biodiversity & Health (COPBH), which co-coordinated and facilitated the launch of the Belgian One Health Network. We launched the Community of Practice on Biodiversity and Health in 2011 and we have, since then, developed a growing network of stakeholders at both Belgian and global levels. The COPBH focuses both on nature related human health risks and benefits. This has been done through:

1.    The organisation of networking events;

2.    Science – policy – practice interface activity

3.    Our Expert Registry and Projects Map

Read more here.

Invasive Alien Species and Wildlife Trade 

From 2006 onwards, The Belgian Biodiversity Platform has facilitated the Belgian Forum on Invasive Species (BFIS). Through this community of practice we coordinated the Alien Alert Project which gave rise to two risk assessments protocols: Harmonia+ and Pandora.

Pandora is a first link risk assessment scheme for pathogenic or parasitic organisms that may be of concern to environmental, plant, animal or human health. It refers directly to a particular host organism, and as such is designed to support assessments with Harmonia+, which targets invasive alien species.

In December 2019, the Belgian Biodiversity Platform co-organized the ‘Towards a sustainable wildlife trade’ conference. A major outcome of this conference was the publication of three policy briefs looking at the case of bushmeat, the case of reptiles and amphibians and sound data in support of decision making. These briefs outline not only the conservation issues behind the uncontrolled trade of exotic species, but also the hazardous impacts it has to public health through the spread of animal pathogens.

IPBES and SBSTTA/CBD  

Through our engagement as experts, we have helped to highlight the biodiversity and health interlinkages in the IPBES European and Central Asia assessment. We have also contributed to the Network for Evaluation of One Health (NEOH) request to IPBES for a ‘Biodiversity & Health’ assessment in the context of the IPBES rolling Work Programme up to 2030. We proposed to take this initiative within NEOH at its final conference, which was accepted. At the core of this request was the need for a One Health approach, incorporating information on nature based human health risks & benefits. 

Hosting the IPBES National Focal Point, we are also involved in recruiting experts for the so-called ‘nexus assessment’ on biodiversity, health, climate and food; and we will be in charge of reviewing the actual draft assessment and related negotiations at the Plenary meeting.

As part of the Belgian delegation to SBSTTA we also have been coordinating the topical focus on biodiversity & health: SBSTTA 2017 & 2020 (AutumnAugust 2020)

Dates for the next SBSTTA meeting are 1-7 Nov 2020

Open Data 

The Belgian Biodiversity Platform plays an active role in providing accessibility of open data to researchers, policymakers and practitioners. Our services include, being the Belgian node to GBIF, providing biodiversity informatics tools and standards and facilitation of data papers, policy and management. The platform promotes Open Data and FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable data) among academics, decision makers and field managers in Belgium.  These same principles are cited as capital in the framework of the study of COVID-19 and the dynamics of its epidemic.

The pandemic has been linked to certain potentially vector organisms (pangolins, bats) and to the current biodiversity crisis (destruction of natural habitats). Biodiversity monitoring and study mechanisms are supported by the GBIF and serve to better understand the links between the health crises and the biodiversity/biodiversity crisis as such as their longer-term evolution.
During this time of COVID-19, we have remained active in disseminating information on how scientists can stay informed and contribute their skills towards open data. Examples include release of COVID-19 data through SciensanoCrowd Fight COVID-19Corona survey from University of Antwerp, DigitalWallonia 4 Good, etc. 
We have also taken this time of lockdown to initiate an update of Belgian GBIF data, by contacting authors of datasets and supporting them where needed.

EKLIPSE  

As part of the EKLIPSE Biodiversity and Health request the Belgian Biodiversity Platform has been involved in supporting a systematic review of scientific literature regarding mental effects of urban green & blue. This is being done in collaboration with WHO Europe.

BiodivERsA

The Belgian Biodiversity Platform currently implements tasks for BiodivERsA (on behalf of BELSPO), particularly in science-policy interfacing, mapping activities, and communication. We are also involved in linking Belgian researchers with the BiodivERsA Partnership by communicating on annual calls, events and useful tools. 

In 2018, BiodivERsA launched a joint call on ‘Biodiversity and its link with animal, human and plant health’ including participation of Belspo, FWO and F.R.S.-FNRS. Ten transnational projects were funded for ca. 12 Mio € including 2 projects exploring animal reservoirs for viruses and risk of emergence of zoonoses, one in Europe  and one in tropical Africa. This is clearly timely in the context of the current Covid-19 crisis.