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Learn about our work to advance a Just One Health approach through education, research, and policy.

What Is Just One Health?

A Just One Health approach places justice, primary prevention, and the connections between people, animals, and the planet at the heart of global and local policy, research, and practice.

Just One Health builds on a “One Health” framework, which recognizes the interconnected health of people, animals, plants, and the environment, as well as the need for inter-professional collaboration.

Just One Health provides a foundation on which evidence-based public policies, institutions, and practices can become more socially, environmentally, and economically just, and uplift the most vulnerable. 

This approach enables a more effective and impactful realization of One Health’s potential by bridging the work of a diverse constellation of health, environmental, and social justice initiatives. A Just One Health approach recognizes the connections between rights, health, and justice, and that humans and animals have a right to be free

  • from abuse and exploitation;
  • to meet their self-determined physiological, physical, and mental needs; and
  • to thrive as individuals, families, and communities in natural, safe, and healthy environments.

In doing so, a Just One Health approach also aims to prevent and address trauma to individuals, communities, and populations, and to prevent, mitigate, and reverse global existential threats, including the climate crisis, pandemics, and ecosystem destruction. 

Just One Health Project ECHO

Currently, there is a lack of inter-professional, cross-sectoral, and open access educational resources and technical expertise to advance holistic, inclusive, and evidence-based social and environmental justice interventions that serve the public health needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to reality the importance of primary prevention and public health interventions focused on the interconnected health and wellbeing of vulnerable people, animals, and the environment. Despite growing interest in this area, a relative lack of knowledge and skill in the subject places vulnerable communities at greater risk for social and environmental injustices and poor health outcomes.

To address these global and local needs, we have partnered with Project ECHO to deliver free educational resources and expertise, resources, education, training, and mentorship that can be used to inform community development and public health interventions that are just, equitable, and recognize the closely connected rights, health, and wellbeing of people and animals through a Just One Health approach.

By partnering with Project ECHO, we join a global impact initiative to touch 1 billion lives by 2025.

If you are interested in learning more or partnering through the Just One Health Project ECHO, please contact us.

International Policy Work

One of our public policy priorities is to ensure that a Just One Health approach is reflected in the policy recommendations of intergovernmental organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Additionally, we work to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a Just One Health approach centered on rights, health, and wellbeing.

As a member of the NGO Major Group, Phoenix Zones Initiative is involved in the review and the implementation of the SDGs. Phoenix Zones Initiative helped draft the NGO Major Group’s 2021 Position Paper, which addresses how governments should implement the SDGs and related targets, and the role civil society can play in achieving the SDGs, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the NGO Major Group, Phoenix Zones Initiative also provided comment on various drafts of the Ministerial Declaration of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (UNHLP) on Sustainable Development, which ultimately acknowledged the critical importance of human rights, with special attention to the needs of vulnerable populations, as well as the importance of “increased ambition and urgency of action to protect wildlife and other living species and reversing the trends in environmental degradation through the restoration of ecosystems…”

The declaration also called for “halting biodiversity loss and deforestation, promoting sustainable forest management and combating desertification, drought and land degradation, combating sand and dust storms, sound management of chemicals and waste, and enhancing global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking in protected species, including by ending the illegal trade in and unsustainable consumption of wildlife.”

Although Phoenix Zones Initiative continues to fight to end all animal trafficking, the adopted language of the 2021 Ministerial Declaration was a step in the right direction.

Phoenix Zones Initiative’s CEO, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian, was also selected as an expert to advise on preparations for the UNHLPF on Sustainable Development held July 13–15, 2021. The HLPF is the UN’s core platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Dr. Ferdowsian was asked to provide expertise on SDG 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.” The Expert Group Meetings were held virtually, May 17–20, 2021, and the session on SDG 3 was co-organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the WHO. Dr. Ferdowsian’s recommendations were made available on the UN Department of Economic and Social Development for Sustainable Development website for consideration by UN Member States and other stakeholders. 

Federal and Regional Policy

Through research, education, outreach, and cross-sectoral partnerships, Phoenix Zones Initiative also works to ensure that Just One Health approach is incorporated in federal and regional policy.

Forthcoming reports and recommendations will highlight opportunities within federal agencies to incorporate a Just One Health approach and to better serve the needs of the most vulnerable.

Our research has also shown a need for an economic vitality metric that addresses how food, fiber, and other production systems, and the SDGs, can best address the interconnected needs of people, animals, and the planet. We are working with economic experts and partners to offer relevant economic policy recommendations that go beyond economic metrics such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We strive for a world in which individuals are not defined by their ability to produce economic value or by other historical systems of inequity.


As a member of the Harvard FXB Health and Human Rights Consortium, Phoenix Zones Initiative’s CEO Dr. Hope Ferdowsian serves as a co-editor of the forthcoming December 2021 Health and Human Rights Journal issue. A special section of the journal issue will focus on innovative work in the area of ecological justice and the right to health.

Papers will address:

  • intersections between social and environmental justice that impact the right to health;
  • relationships between the legal, political, and economic treatment of animals and the natural environment, and health and human rights;
  • how international frameworks such as the One Health Initiative and the Sustainable Development Goals address, or could better address, the right to health; and
  • the potential influence of expansive rights frameworks, including other than human rights, on human health outcomes.

Support our work to advance the interconnected rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet through a Just One Health approach.

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