WCS is issuing the following statements concerning the new EU Global Health Strategy - Better Health for All in a Changing World.

This new strategy was issued on 30 November 2022 and sets out the EU’s global priorities and actions leading up to 2030 to combat health threats, and to ultimately protect human health and well-being.

Said Dr. Chris Walzer, Executive Director of Health, WCS:

“WCS welcomes the issuance of the new EU Global Health Strategy just before the United Nations Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Montreal, Canada, where world governments have gathered to agree on a new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) for the decade to come, aiming at halting and reversing nature loss, and ultimately ensuring humanity’s survival.

“The science is clear that protecting nature plays a vital role in addressing the four global crises the world is facing: climate change, biodiversity loss, global inequities, and the emergence of pandemics of zoonotic origin.

 “As we enter an extended ‘age of pandemics’, this new Global Health Strategy demonstrates that the EU has built on lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. Plans to implement ambitious One Health actions to reduce risks of future pandemics of zoonotic origin, and ultimately to ensure global health security are much needed.

“In particular, we strongly support actions aiming to strengthen capacities for upstream prevention and early detection of health threats globally while building a robust global collaborative surveillance network that includes the environment, to better detect and act on potential pathogens. We also firmly believe that a new WHO instrument to address future pandemic threats must include strong provisions on prevention at source (or “deep prevention”)  to ensure a timely and equitable global governance of pandemic hazards and risks.

Said Arnaud Goessens, Associate Director, EU Policy, WCS EU Office:

“We hope to see an increase in the resources to ensure the full implementation of this new strategy, both within the EU and with partner organisations and governments. In particular, leveraging a Team Europe approach will be key at ensuring close coordination between the EU and its Member States and achieving long-lasting positive impacts.

“We strongly support the EU's commitment to promote ambitious global action to tackle biodiversity loss and to foster a One Health approach in the future GBF to be agreed at COP15. We urge the EU to ensure that prevention of pathogen spillover as a biodiversity issue is included in the GBF.

“We note, however, that the new strategy only highlights the need to tackle wildlife trafficking to reduce the risk of zoonoses. However, a virus is indifferent to whether a wild animal in a market was obtained legally or not (or was obtained from the wild or a farm). The science is clear, and we urge the EU to therefore address wildlife trade as a whole (both legal and illegal), and in particular address the risk of large commercial markets for live wildlife, particularly birds and mammals, as a key measure to reduce risks of pathogen spillover and thereby of future pandemics of zoonotic origin.

“An ounce of prevention is worth trillions in cure and damage control.

“We applaud the EU for its commitment to step up efforts in the One Health area, notably through the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme, a major international initiative that aims to conserve wild animals and protect ecosystems, whilst at the same time improving the food security and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and local communities (LCs) who depend on these resources.

 “Finally, we are pleased to see the creation of a new One Health Unit within DG SANTE, which, we hope, will help to break down silos and allow the EU to develop and implement fully integrated One Health approaches.”