Editorial from IDRC

May 10, 2011
Ecosystems and Human Health
In the short seven months since the International EcoHealth Forum (IEF 2008) in Mérida, Mexico, several events have reinforced the need to reflect upon what we accomplished together last December. The world is already grappling with a fresh crop of far-reaching crises with complex implications for ecosystems and for human health: the aftermath of the global financial crisis, an influenza pandemic, new and varied conflicts and disasters.

But there are new signs of positive changes in political leadership, in multilateral processes, as well as in many communities all over the world. The nearly 700 IEF 2008 delegates have returned to their 70 home countries and are contributing now to this momentum for positive change.

IEF 2008 was unique in its planning, with representatives from 7 different national and international organizations forming a steering committee, an international advisory committee covering all continents, and a program committee with diverse backgrounds and geography. IDRC co-convened the conference with the publishers of EcoHealth, the Journal of the International Association for Ecology and Health, but it was Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública as host that assured the success of the Forum on location in beautiful Mérida, with the support of the Mexican Ministry of Public Health and the Government of Yucatán.

The Forum was also enhanced by the insights of a consortium of Brazilian organizations: Fundação Oswaldo Cruz/FIOCRUZ, the conservation NGO Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas, IPÊ, and the Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, of the Universidade de São Paulo. In Mérida, the energy in the presentation rooms and in the corridors was electrifying. IEF 2008 was a key moment for building a global ecohealth community and forging new alliances, establishing new synergies, and strengthening partnerships.

With these web pages, the IDRC is dedicating the next issue of its Health ↔ Environment: Global Links Newsletter to the Mérida Forum. For readers who could not participate in this event, the articles may convey some of the flavour and content of the conference, and a hint of the energy and collective feeling of urgency and mission that developed during those inspiring days.

For those readers who were there, we hope this newsletter reminds you of the new ideas formed, new colleagues encountered and synergies started in Mérida, and stokes your motivation to continue to strive for better approaches to health and environment research, and for research that contributes to action for the betterment of human and ecosystem health.

Thank you, merci, gracias, obrigada to all who made the trip to Mérida! We look forward to seeing many of you at the 3rd Biennial Conference of the International Association for Ecology and Health, in London, UK, in August 2010!

Dominique Charron, PhD
Program Leader
Ecosystem Approaches to Human Health
International Development Research Centre