Mountain summit to focus on ‘One Health’

Darjeeling: The tenth edition of the Integrated Mountain Initiative’s (IMI) flagship event, the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit (SMDS), will begin today and continue through November 20.

This year’s edition is being hosted by the Darjeeling-Kalimpong chapter of the IMI, The Darjeeling Himalaya Initiative.

The theme for this year’s SMDS is “One Health Making our Mountains Resilient”.

A statement from the IMI said: “The wellbeing of mountain people is inextricably linked to biodiversity. With the Covid-19 pandemic, inter-linkages between biodiversity, ecosystem, and human health have become starkly apparent.

“Covid-19 showed that outbreaks and spread of diseases are not just a health risk, but regress human civilization by disrupting social life, economy, education, livelihoods, and rob people of basic dignity and wellbeing. The pandemic also highlighted the existing social inequities and further deepened this. Mountain communities are particularly vulnerable to climate change, which impacts vulnerable populations dependent on natural resources and services like water, energy, food and associated livelihoods.

“The far-flung mountain populations are underserved with low access to health and social facilities, and thus more vulnerable to the impacts of pandemics brought about by loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services and aggravated by climate change,” it said.

The IMI added the concept of ‘One Health’ that binds together the health of humans, animals, and the environment has gained greater relevance particularly with the ongoing pandemic.

“One Health is an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to recognize the interconnectedness of the components, interactions and relationships, both tangible and intangible, within landscapes for optimal health and environmental outcomes,” it said.

This year’s SMDS will focus on advocating resilient and sustainable policies and programmes in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) in averting future impacts of climate change, disasters and pandemics

The event will also seek to share knowledge and inform policy and decision-makers about the interconnectedness of the selected themes and the importance of One Health approaches in all aspects of development in the region.

In the sidelines of the event, the SMDS will also host the Mountain Legislators’ Meet that brings together elected representatives of the IHR states to discuss relevant issues.

This year too, the SMDS will bring together legislators from the IHR states to discuss One Health with a key focus around plastic pollution and its impacts thereof to lead to a policy recommendation on plastic waste specifically for the mountains.

The keynote address for the inaugural day will be delivered by Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the Chief Scientist with the World Health Organization, with a special address by BV Umadevi, the additional secretary with the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change.

This year’s edition will be held in a blended mode.

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