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Nitzan, D.; Andreuzza, B.N.; Chattopadhyay, D. The One Health, Food Systems, and Resilience. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 16 June 2024).
Nitzan D, Andreuzza BN, Chattopadhyay D. The One Health, Food Systems, and Resilience. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 16, 2024.
Nitzan, Dorit, Bindu Nishal Andreuzza, Deepanwita Chattopadhyay. "The One Health, Food Systems, and Resilience" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 16, 2024).
Nitzan, D., Andreuzza, B.N., & Chattopadhyay, D. (2024, January 13). The One Health, Food Systems, and Resilience. In Encyclopedia.
Nitzan, Dorit, et al. "The One Health, Food Systems, and Resilience." Encyclopedia. Web. 13 January, 2024.
The One Health, Food Systems, and Resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic, adverse effects of climate change, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and other threats have been calling on all relevant stakeholders from varied disciplines to collaborate via the One Health approach, addressing the health of people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. 

:one health food systems food security sustainability resilience climate change

1. Introduction

Planetary challenges, such as climate change, pandemics, neglected and novel diseases, and food insecurity, have redirected the mindset of community interventions and policymakers at local, national, and global levels toward adopting the One Health (OH) approach [1][2][3]. Recently, the OH concept has moved from a human-centric to a planet-centric approach.
Even before the pandemic, different global and organizations formed alliances in the spirit of the OH approach. In 2001, the World Health Organization (WHO) Member States agreed to work together on preparedness and response to pandemics. Building on the International Health Regulations (IHR) (1995), all the WHO State Parties accepted an updated version of the IHR in 2005, which came into force in 2007. These regulations are based on cross- and trans-sector collaboration, using the “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approaches and actions at local, national, and global levels. The IHR (2005) delineates the required core capacities for preparedness and response. Building on these regulations, in 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE), and the WHO signed the Tripartite Concept Note, bringing agriculture and the health of animals and humans onto the same platform [4].
During the COVID-19 pandemic, in November 2020, at the Paris Peace Forum, the FAO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), WHO, and the WOAH agreed to enhance their collaboration by creating a multidisciplinary, independent One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP) with the support of the governments of France and Germany. The Panel agreed that “One Health stands for an integrative and systemic approach to health, grounded on the understanding that human health is closely linked to the healthiness of food, animals and the environment, and the healthy balance of their impact on the ecosystems they share, everywhere in the world” [5][6].
In recent months, WHO Member States have started negotiating a global accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. The “zero draft” is anchored in the WHO Constitution, uses its definition of health, and recalls the preamble to the Constitution that states that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition, and that unequal development in different countries in the promotion of health and the control of disease, especially communicable disease, is a common threat”. It also reaffirms the State Parties’ sovereignty principle in addressing public health issues, including pandemic prevention, preparedness, response, and health system recovery. It serves as a basis for the agreement, recognizes the One Health approach, and has an article dedicated to it.

2. The One Health, Food Systems, and Resilience—The FOR Platform

Humans and other living organisms coexist through mutual interdependence. They share food chains and food webs, hosting many of the same microorganisms, and residing in the same environment. The most recent opportunity for a wake-up call to re-calculate our route from a human-centric to a planet-centric approach was provided by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has widened inequalities, undermined progress on global poverty, and caused a widespread economic and humanitarian crisis [7][8]. The pandemic has revealed the threats and impacts of climate change and other imminent hazards, including antimicrobial resistance (AMR), conflicts, and food insecurity [9][10][11][12][13].
These events have shaken off the dust from the 30-year-old notion of the One Health concept [14]. This notion was practiced even earlier, for example, by Lady Eve Balfour, who stated that “the health of soil, plant, animal, and man is one and indivisible”. The organic agricultural movement has further put it into practice [15]. The integrated One Health approach aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals, and ecosystems. It relies on shared, respected, and influential governance and policymaking, community engagement and communication with shared responsibility and accountability, capacity development, education, forward-thinking, and innovation. It invests in peace among humans and their shared environment. The notion of One Health is still evolving, building on the work carried out by pioneers in clinical care and public health [16]
The critical stimulus for the first group was the “Hazards Approach”. For example, zoonotic diseases constitute about 60 percent of all known infectious diseases in humans and 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases [17]. The spread of these diseases is associated with environmental factors, climate change, animal health, human lifestyle, behaviors, and activities, including globalization, urbanization, migration, marginalization, and poverty. The incidence rate of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases has been increasing globally, especially in settings with a high density of contact between people and animals [18]. Food-producing animals, wet market settings, infected and contaminated food ingredients and items, and climate change are leading to warmer temperatures conducive to the growth of Gram-negative bacteria and transboundary animal diseases that may serve as contaminating vehicles [19]. Many zoonotic diseases are associated with food because it is contaminated with pathogens or has been in contact with infected animals. For example, foodborne illnesses such as salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis can be transmitted to humans by consuming contaminated food [20]. Another aspect is the impact of industrial activities and waste collection around the globe on the accumulation of heavy metals in the environment, affecting the health of humans, animals, and plants [21]. Plants are an essential component of the One Health Approach as they provide over 80% of the food consumed by humans and are the primary source of nutrition for livestock. The FAO estimates that up to 40% of food crops are lost annually due to plant pests and diseases [22].
Another complex hazard that requires a better understanding is antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Driven by the inappropriate use of antimicrobial drugs in human and animal health settings, the food chain, and our day-to-day activities, AMR can lead to the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms and impact human and animal health [9]. To combat AMR, antibiotics should be prescribed only when needed for treatment, rarely for prophylaxis, and never as growth promotors across the One Health players. Moving forward, safer tools, alternative solutions to AMR, and improved control measures are needed.
The second group goes above and beyond the “hazards lens” (e.g., zoonotic diseases, food safety, and AMR). Agriculture, including crop and livestock production, is a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Agricultural GHG emissions can come from various sources, including using fossil fuels for irrigation, stubble burning, fertilization, transportation, enteric fermentation in livestock, stored manure, and synthetic fertilizers. Farming styles and modalities, such as family- or industrial-based agriculture, have different impacts on climate change, food and nutrition insecurity, sovereignty, and resilience [23][24]. Food processing and transportation can also contribute to GHG emissions due to the use of fossil fuels and waste generation [25]. The food industry is also a significant contributor to GHG emissions, and efforts to reduce these emissions can help mitigate climate change. Researching different ways to implement a real circular economy approach can help reduce the negative impacts of food production on human, animal, plant, and environmental health. It can contribute to the overall sustainability of the food system.
In addition to the direct impacts on human, animal, and plant health, microorganisms shape ecosystem dynamics and processes and play essential roles in nitrogen cycling and soil health. To add to it, organisms and their associated microbiota, the holobionts, form complex ecological units that influence the health of humans, animals, plants and the environment [26][27]. Viruses can affect the population dynamics of aquatic organisms [28], As a group, fungi have complex relations with nature, having essential roles in ecological processes. They communicate in ecosystems through their interactions with other organisms and plants. They can form symbiotic relationships with plants, animals, and other microorganisms to benefit both parties. 
Access to healthy, safe, and nutritious food is costly. In 2020, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 3 billion people could not afford a healthy diet [24]. This deepening of inequalities across- and within nations has impacted the entire One Health spectrum. The existing OH platforms are mainly centered on and revolve around rich countries and groups worldwide. Safe environments are associated with luxurious settings and access to people-centered, good-quality, safe, and life-long health services, including public health. This so far has been the privilege of people living in countries that provide universal health coverage (UHC) or those that can fund it. Prevention of diseases among animals and plants is expensive and not provided under UHC almost anywhere in the world. Technical experts, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, are rarely consulted with or listened to. 
Different views exist on the needed actions to transform the current food systems and make them equitable, resilient, and sustainable. Juskaite and Haung summarize four such approaches: the first advocates for the increased production of food; the second emphasizes redistribution of current wealth and authority; the third group focuses on demolishing capitalism; and the fourth focuses on financial and food aid [29]. They argue that democracy is a prerequisite to bridging the power divide that is standing in the way of transforming the food system and making it equitable. With democracy, the voice and power of the consumers and workers will overcome corporate power, wealth, and influence. The availability of technologies has not paved the way for more resilient food systems during the COVID-19 pandemic [29].

3. Food System, One Health and Resilience (FOR) Research

  • Interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaborations, sharing of data on a real-time basis, and enhanced coordination among the FOR sectors and disciplines,
  • Systems thinking that recognizes and identifies the complex interactions and finds ways to address them over time within the context of larger systems when addressing health issues.
  • Preventive approaches that are aimed at environmental protection, vaccinations to prevent the spread of human and animal diseases, promotion of hygiene, and infection control measures to address challenges linked to food and water safety and security, agri/food supply management, and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • Social-ecological lens that directs research on governance, macroeconomic and social policies, culture and societal values, social equity, community engagement, cultures, diversity, and active support across and inside nations.
  • Surveillance and transparency through the continuous monitoring and evaluation of health risks and the effectiveness of interventions to identify, predict, and address potential health threats.
  • Sustainability and the need to consider the long-term sustainability of human, animal, and environmental health and adopt practices promoting sustainable solutions.
  • Biosecurity and health security aspects through implementing evidence-based known and innovative tools, including rapid detection, remote sensing, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, preventive measures, quarantine procedures, hygiene, and laboratory biosecurity protocols.
  • Ethical considerations to be included in research and activities, ensuring that the interdependencies and the trade-offs are considered, aiming for “first do no harm”.
Unfortunately, the current OH approach suffers from a strong human bias. With more data becoming available, it has become apparent that humans are primarily responsible for the negative environmental impact, climate change, increased occurrence of transboundary animal diseases, and food security.

4. FOR Innovation

Innovations are and will continue to be an important aspect of the success of the FOR platform, as they can result in the identification of new tools and technologies and the repurposing of existing technologies to address the complex issues involved in the interactions between humans, animals, plants, and the environment. Global and local consumers should be integral to the FOR approach.
  • The development of new technologies to identify and prevent adverse outcomes associated with health insecurity. Innovations using artificial intelligence and/or machine learning for medical imaging enable quicker care delivery with increased accuracy by building patient-centric workflows that empower doctors, veterinarians, and plant health specialists to understand the disease comprehensively and provide faster and more accurate diagnosis and treatment options across the full FOR platforms.
  • Repurposing existing and identifying new technologies aimed at prevention, early detection, surveillance, preparedness, and response to planetary health emergencies and control of infectious diseases. These may include the development of immunity accelerators, protection tools such as PPE’s, rapid and accurate diagnostic tests, data analytics to identify disease trends and patterns, epi-centers, and footprint of infections inclusive for neglected, reemerging, and novel diseases.
  • The development of new medical countermeasures, including personal protective equipment (PPE), diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, and other preventive measures to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases. This may include the development of vaccines for emerging infectious diseases or the use of innovative delivery methods such as patch and nasal vaccines. It will also focus on ways to share these public health goods across the One Health platform globally.
  • The development of new approaches to improve antimicrobial adherence and stewardship, including using precision medicine to improve the selection of antimicrobial drugs, reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance, and use phages as alternatives to treat patients with AMR.
  • The development of new approaches to sustainable food systems and climate-resilient agriculture, including new food products that utilize resilient and sustainable crops and wild edible plants, precision agriculture, effective, non-toxic biomolecules, safe agroecological practices, and alternative smart and enhanced protein sources to reduce the environmental pollution of food production. Such actions can improve food quality and consumers’ health and well-being, increase farmers’ income, food, nutrition, and health security, enhance on-farm educational and agricultural tourism, and promote traditional cultures.
  • Including food as an important health promoter and considering the biological interactions of plants, animals, microorganisms, and the environment. The development of new approaches to improving humans’, animals’, plants’, and environmental health and well-being, using innovative technologies and approaches, including telemedicine and telehealth, to deliver services remotely and for human–animal-plant-environment assisted therapy.
  • The identification of global and local solutions to reduce the emission of GHGs, stubble burning, agri-waste management to treat industrial water, transition to renewable energy sources, and waste management, including food wastage by consumers.

5. Conclusions

To implement the holistic FOR Approach, academic and research institutions, science parks, and incubators may consider the setting up of interdisciplinary research and capacity development platforms to generate awareness and knowledge. They can be lead examples of partnership models to further the FOR approach. These platforms can enhance transdisciplinary collaboration with many stakeholders, including policymakers, civil society organizations, and communities. Their comprehensive focus, above and beyond zoonotic diseases, for instance, could bring prevention forward across sectors and hazards while ensuring the “Planet First” and balanced approaches.


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