FAPESP and the Sustainable Development Goals

Study inspired by global agendas focuses on relationships between human beings and nature

Study inspired by global agendas focuses on relationships between human beings and nature

Researchers and stakeholders in Brazil and the United Kingdom investigated the effects of proximity to the sea on physical and mental health (photo: Ronaldo Christofoletti/UNIFESP)

Published on 11/28/2022

By José Tadeu Arantes  |  Agência FAPESP – Human-nature relationships are at the heart of global agendas currently being promoted by international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations. Their benefits range from better health and well-being for humans to the protection of nature by promoting environmentally sustainable behavior.

The experience of working on these agendas, which require interdisciplinary multisectoral efforts on a local, national and global level, is discussed in an article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology and signed by researchers, policymakers and agents of public, private and non-governmental organizations in Brazil and the United Kingdom.

“The article presents the results of our international meetings and proposes an interdisciplinary working model to address these global agendas, particularly the interface between the WHO’s One Health approach [focusing on the interdependence between human, animal, plant and environmental health] and the UN Ocean Decade [which aims to catalyze ocean science solutions for sustainable development],” said Ronaldo Christofoletti, last author of the article. He is a professor and researcher at the Federal University of São Paulo's Institute of Marine Sciences (IMAR-UNIFESP) in Santos, Brazil.

The study was supported by FAPESP via four projects (17/50220-8, 14/50848-915/50687-8 and 16/11947-7).

The authors identified three priority working areas: human-nature connections; synergies and tradeoffs between human behavior and conservation; and implementation strategies involving and organizing all stakeholders.

“We also discussed several recommendations for future progress, spotlighting three goals that are particularly important in our own sphere,” Christofoletti said. “The first is linking global agendas to local activities. The second is translating goals that have been socially discussed into cross-cutting multisector research projects, integrating various academic fields and also going outside academia to garner contributions from different sectors of society. The third is internationalization through partnerships among actors in countries that often have very different realities.”

The UK-Brazil partnership in this area has in fact lasted 15 years. The study took into account all three recommendations for moving forward, focusing on the interface between environmental management and promotion of human health.

“We mostly ignore this, but human beings are part of the environmental system. One Health has been telling us for a long time that human and environmental health can’t be separated. The pandemic clearly confirmed this. If the environment is being strongly impacted and if previously isolated ecological niches are under pressure from human activity, the pathogens present in these contexts will inevitably emerge and infect humans,” Christofoletti said. 

“In parallel, the UN Ocean Decade began last year and focuses on science-based decision-making for sustainable development. It’s worth noting that 20% of the economy depends on the ocean in Brazil. This agenda has a great deal to do with the relationships between coastal inhabitants and the sea. Research shows that being near the sea is good for physical and mental health. It’s no accident that most people intuitively prefer to spend their vacations at the beach.”

The idea that arose, he explained, was to investigate how these two agendas dialogue with each other in different knowledge areas and countries. This was the focus of the study, which was inspired by a workshop attended by researchers and representatives of various Brazilian and British entities. The main aim was to produce socially relevant science. 

“Having completed the first stage, we’re now concentrating on what to do in practice,” Christofoletti said, adding that he is currently looking for ways to fund a project on the relationship between human wellbeing and proximity to the ocean.

The article “When One Health meets the United Nations Ocean Decade: global agendas as a pathway to promote collaborative interdisciplinary research on human-nature relationships” is at: www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.809009/full


Source: https://agencia.fapesp.br/40163