"Come out of your zones…break down walls, break down silos," urged International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Director-General Julia Marton-Lefevre at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona this October. One of the three "streams" of the conference, "Healthy Environments, Healthy People," sought to knock down the traditional barrier between health and conservation organizations. Although not all of the sessions focused strongly on the "people" side of conservation, at least one—"Population, Health and Environment: Value Added from an Integrated Development Strategy"—seriously examined the links between people and the places they live.
Gib Clarke of the Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program explained how population-health-environment (PHE) programs integrate each sector to improve their performance, increase efficiency, and lower overall costs. By attending to people's immediate needs, such as health, PHE programs can increase community support for conservation, Clarke explained. PHE programs also offer health projects an entry point to remote rural areas.
A veterinarian by training, Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka founded Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) to serve the health needs of people living near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a protected area in Uganda that is home to half of the world's remaining mountain gorillas. The program's first years have yielded Integrated Population and Coastal Resource Management program in the Philippines, which offers family planning services; community-based coastal resource management tools and education; and micro-loans and training for alternative livelihoods. The program's rigorous monitoring and evaluation system has shown that an integrated approach improves family planning and coastal management more than sectoral approaches, and at a lower total cost.
The people of the Terai Arc Landscape area of Nepal must contend with extensive logging, rapid population growth, and livelihoods that rely heavily upon natural resources, explained Sabita Thapa of the World Wildlife Fund. Working with community forest user groups, government health agencies, and a coalition of NGOs (including WWF, the Red Cross, and ADRA-Nepal), the program combines family planning, health, forest conservation, and alternative livelihood initiatives.
In his evaluations of more than 20 PHE programs, John Pielemeier found that PHE programs were more efficient than many single-sector efforts; garnered more participation from members of both genders; and were appreciated by communities because they could be tailored to meet their needs. He cautioned that challenges remain, however, including the need for more robust monitoring and evaluation; stronger evidence that PHE programs can be effectively scaled-up to regional or national levels; and the need to convince donors to fund programs that do not fall neatly into one sector of funding.
Jason Bremner of the Population Reference Bureau moderated a lively discussion—kicked off by a question from Ken Weiss of the Los Angeles Times—of the reasons why integrated programs are not more prevalent and better-funded. Eriyo Jesca, Uganda's minister of water and environment, raised the issue of the implications of human-wildlife disease linkages for bushmeat consumption and trade.
- Associate Vice President and Program Director of Population, Health, and Environment, Population Reference Bureau
- Interfaith Community Health Center
- Executive Vice President, PATH Foundation Philippines, Inc.
- Founder and CEO, Conservation Through Public Health
- Independent Consultant