Considering the health of humans, animals and the environment together

The closer coexistence of more and more people with animals, the intrusion of humans into previously untouched animal habitats and increasing mobility, as well as climate change, are leading to new health risks for humans and animals. One Health means considering the health of humans, animals and the environment as a whole and linking all sectors.

Goals of the Working Group One Health

The Working Group, which has been in existence since January 2024, will focus on the holistic approach of One Health towards a comprehensive understanding of health. The working group follows the definition of One Health by the One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP). This definition is also the basis for the "One Health Joint Plan of Action" of the Quadripartite of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with six action points:

• Expand One Health capacities to strengthen health systems
• Reduce the risk of new and re-emerging zoonotic epidemics and pandemics
• Control and eliminate endemic zoonotic, neglected tropical and vector-borne diseases
• Strengthen risk assessment, risk management and risk communication in food safety
• Limit the "silent pandemic" of antimicrobial resistance
• Integrate the environment into the One Health approach.

Internationally, the OHHLEP reflects the diversity that the Working Group of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Hamburg now wants to realise at national level.

Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Thomas Mettenleiter

Human, animal and environmental health are connected in many ways, as has been impressively demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The One Health approach addresses this intrinsic connection in an interdisciplinary and trans-sectoral manner in order to break barriers between disciplines and sectors. Communication, coordination, cooperation and capacity building are fundamental principles necessary for success.

Project Description

One Health is a systemic, holistic approach to the topic of "health". It is based on trans-sectoral, interdisciplinary cooperation and is therefore an ideal topic for a Working Group at the Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Hamburg. The One Health approach is a further development of the "One Medicine" concept, which is supported by the disciplines of human and veterinary medicine. One Health also includes many areas of other natural sciences (e.g. biodiversity research, climate research) as well as social sciences and humanities.

To mark the award of the Hamburg Science Prize 2023 on the topic of "One Health", a series of lectures is initially planned for the first half of 2024, in which the prizewinner Fabian Leendertz, the spokesperson of the Academy Working Group, Thomas Mettenleiter, and two other speakers will present the topic in detail and make it tangible using best-practice examples.

A workshop is planned for the second half of 2024, at which the various disciplines will contribute their ideas to the topic and actively participate. Three of the six action points (antimicrobial resistance, epidemics/pandemics, other infectious diseases) have already been addressed in the completed Working Group "Infection Research and Society". The focus will now be on integrating these topics into the overall "One Health" complex.

Further activities will arise from the results of the workshop. In the area of One Health, extensive networking with other academies and institutes in Germany and abroad is also possible. A final symposium and a corresponding publication (status quo of the One Health approach, thesis paper on the further development of the approach) are planned for the end of the five-year working period at the latest.


  • First half of 2024: Kick-off workshop
  • Summer semester 2024: Academy lecture series on One Health
  • Second half of 2024: Workshop on the working group's specific approach
  • 2029: Final symposium and book publication

Permanent guests

Prof. Dr. Fabian Leendertz, Founding Director of the Helmholtz Institute for One Health (HIOH) in Greifswald, winner of the Hamburg Science Award 2023 on the topic of "One Health"

Prof. Dr. Simone Sommer, Director of the Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics, University of Ulm