One Health and Water

The One Health concept is a collaborative, transdisciplinary approach recognizing that the health of humans, the environment, plants, and animals are closely interconnected and interdependent. Addressing the shared challenges through One Health aims to sustainably balance and optimise health outcomes for all, leading to global health security and integrity of ecosystems.

Emerging One Health issues include:

  • Coronavirus & other zoonotic diseases
  • Environmental pollution – including water pollution
  • Antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
  • Waste management
  • Food safety & security
  • Biodiversity loss

One Health relies on shared and effective governance, communication, collaboration and coordination across sectors. Having the One Health approach in place makes it easier for people to better understand the co-benefits, risks, trade-offs and opportunities to advance equitable and holistic solutions.

Water and water quality are central to the One Health connectivity. And Scotland has internationally significant and high-quality water resources, which are of vital importance to its society and the economy. The Scottish Government has stated that:

Scotland’s water environment is one of our greatest natural assets, supporting our health, wellbeing, wildlife and the sustainable growth of our economy.”

This is recognised through the Scottish Government’s ‘Hydro Nation’ agenda, which has created Scotland into the world’s first Hydro Nation. A Hydro Nation is a country which sustainably manages its water resources to the best advantage, and applies its knowledge and expertise domestically and internationally. This includes governance and responsible management of water resources, performance of the water industry, international research to address key water challenges in society and the environment, and development the value of all of water resources for the economy.

As a Hydro Nation, Scotland is seeking to maximise the economic, social, and environmental benefits of its water resources through sustainable economic development, research and innovation, and good stewardship practices. Scotland is also driving the Hydro Nation agenda internationally and contributing to ongoing research and work to help improve people’s lives around the world. And in so doing, clearly promoting the One Health approach within Scotland and globally.

United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals

Scotland has adopted the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, of which several clearly align with the One Health concept, including good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation, climate action, life above land, and life below water. By committing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Scotland is demonstrating it’s ability to actively drive and contribute to the international agenda. A review published in 2020 details evidence, actions, and stories of Scotland’s progress is meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The OHBP is the first cross-sector and multi-agency collaboration between the public sector, private sector, industry, and academia that is seeking to stimulate innovation and knowledge exchange at the One Health-Water interface by addressing the presence of pharmaceutical pollutants in the environment (click here for more information).

Public sector and other organisations invested in sustainability in Scotland are committed to working together to share knowledge and develop innovative approaches to meet climate, environment, and energy goals. Ongoing work is actively shaping Scotland into a greener, healthier, and climate-ready country, and it is evident that the role of the water environment is critical to the successes. This underlines the principle of One Health, and highlights the importance of the One Health strategy and water resources to the prosperity of Scotland.