Through our commitment to a Just One Health approach, PZI envisions that public policies, institutions, and practices can become more socially and ecologically just, and that they can uplift the most vulnerable.
Our Policy Priorities and Initiatives
For decades, large industries, agriculture and development projects, and many attempts to address disease have driven the exploitation of the most vulnerable individuals and populations.
We advocate for international, national, and local policy changes that require intergovernmental and government agencies to abide by principles that safeguard people, animals, and the environment against exploitation. We are especially focused on addressing publicly funded activities such as food policy, medical research, public health priorities, and international development.
Since many forms of exploitation and abuse can be addressed by ensuring that individuals possess basic rights—including the right to bodily liberty and a healthy and safe home and environment—we advocate for the right to health and other basic protections that influence health and wellbeing for people and animals.
We work to ensure a Just One Health approach is reflected in the policy recommendations and legal requirements of intergovernmental organizations, including United Nations (UN) bodies.
Preventing Global Pandemics Through a Just One Health Approach
The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed millions of human lives and even more nonhuman lives. More than 10 million children have lost a parent or guardian to the pandemic. Deadly hotspots have included farms and meatpacking plants.
The pandemic has strained the healthcare system and those who work in it. A shortage of beds, medical staff, and financial resources has delayed childhood vaccinations, cancer treatment, surgeries, and obstetrical care. Healthcare workers are exhausted, burned out, and leaving their chosen fields.
Although the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is still under investigation, a growing body of evidence confirms that ecosystem degradation, habitat loss and fragmentation, biodiversity loss, encroachment into wildlife habitats, the commercial trade in wild animals, and intensive animal farming increase the risk of emerging infectious disease outbreaks and other negative impacts on human and animal health. Around 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases in humans originate in animals.
Any effective approach to pandemic prevention must address the root causes of disease, in addition to disease surveillance, monitoring, control, and mitigation.
PZI works with international partners in support of a World Health Organization (WHO) negotiated pandemic prevention treaty, and we advocate for a Just One Health approach that recognizes the interdependent rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet.
Watch the video below to learn more.
Please note that this video, from our global partners, presents a disturbing but important reality.
Promoting Sustainable Development by Recognizing Rights
We advocate for further development and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so that they promote rights, health, and wellbeing.
As a member of the NGO Major Group, PZI is involved in the review and the implementation of the SDGs. We helped draft the NGO Major Group’s 2021 and 2022 Position Papers, which address how governments should implement the SDGs and related targets, and the role civil society can play in achieving the SDGs.
PZI’s CEO, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian, was selected to advise on preparations for the 2021 UN High-Level Political Forum (UNHLPF) on Sustainable Development. The UNHLPF is the UN’s core platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Goals.
PZI is also an accredited organization of the UN Environment Program. Learn more.
Preventing the Next Pandemic by Ending Animal Trafficking
It’s impossible to count the times we’ve heard the word unprecedented used to describe the events of 2020, 2021, and 2022. But the conditions that caused the COVID-19 pandemic have many precedents: Ebola, HIV/AIDS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, and earlier SARS outbreaks all had similar origins. These diseases have originated in live animal markets, factory farms, or other environments that hurt animals, workers, and communities.
Experts at the WHO, the UN Environment Program, and other international organizations know how to prevent these deadly outbreaks. Countries must address animal trafficking and exploitation.
While some forms of trafficking are illegal, animal trafficking is broadly permitted by existing laws, and public subsidies commonly fuel industries engaged in animal exploitation and trafficking. Animal trafficking is part of a global economic system that harms both people and animals.
Fortunately, there are proposed laws that could make a difference.
If passed, the Preventing Future Pandemics Act would direct the US State Department to work with international partners to shut down commercial wildlife markets, stop the associated wildlife trade, and end the import, export, and sale of wildlife for human consumption. The bill could prevent another pandemic, which, in one year, cost more than 3 million human lives worldwide and uncounted animal lives in international farms, laboratories, and the wild.
The Global Wildlife Trade Biosecurity Act would also help combat the spread of deadly infectious diseases through the establishment of a global task force and diplomacy and a multisectoral strategy to curb the animal trade and improve biodiversity protections and food security for the 820 million people who are undernourished and 1.9 billion people worldwide who are moderately or severely food insecure. This bill would also lend support for sustainable, nutritious plant-based protein interventions.
Please help us support these efforts, and help us call upon policy makers to go further by addressing the pandemic potential that is created in factory farms, slaughterhouses, and other food production industries that exploit people, animals, and the environment.
Watch our co-founder, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian’s presentation on How to Prevent the Next Pandemic, in which she explains the issue from a public health perspective and a Just One Health approach.
Transforming Medical Research through the FDA Modernization Act
In 2022, PZI helped pass the FDA Modernization Act, which ended the FDA’s 80-year-old animal testing requirement and opened the door to modern, ethical methods that protect humans and animals.
This new law allows drug manufacturers to test the safety and effectiveness of new drugs by using the most modern methods including cell-based assays, organ chips, microphysiological systems, sophisticated computer modeling, and other human biology-based test methods. Learn more.
Protecting Children Working in Agriculture Through the CARE Act
Children are trafficked all over the world, including in the US. They are trafficked for labor, for war, and for sex. Child labor is one of the most common forms of trafficking and exploitation. Agricultural industries, in particular, are some of the worse offenders.
In some parts of the US, children as young as 12 may work in agriculture, where they are exposed to toxins and other health hazards.
To protect children, we have endorsed the CARE Act, or the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety Act. This important legislation would remove the exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act that allow children to work unlimited hours in agriculture beginning at the young age of 12.
Local Policy and Practice
Supporting Local Solutions Through Training, Mentorship, and Collaboration
The pandemic has brought to reality the importance of primary prevention, population health, and public health interventions that are focused on the interconnected health and wellbeing of people, animals, and the environment.
To address these global and local needs, we have partnered with Project ECHO to deliver free educational resources and expertise, training, and mentorship that can be used to inform community 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.
Participants in the Just One Health Project ECHO have included local and international academic, nonprofit, and community-based professionals and advocates from the fields of human and veterinary medicine, public health, journalism, and the biological, physical, and social sciences.
Participants have joined from multiple continents and small towns and big cities alike.
The series has been used by participants to identify and implement quality interventions in community settings, healthcare systems, and government.
By partnering with Project ECHO, we join a global impact initiative to touch one billion lives by 2025.
If you are interested in learning more or partnering through the Just One Health Project ECHO, please contact us.
Economic Frameworks and Policy
Developing Economic Frameworks and Tools That Advance Rights, Health, and Wellbeing
No one’s economic interests should be vested in abuse and exploitation. Communities should be constructed to encourage vitality and ethical and sustainable development. We advocate for better urban and rural planning and for more ambitious economic frameworks that acknowledge the right to a healthy and safe home, community, and environment.
As a society, we cannot know if circumstances are improving unless we compare them with the past. Since the early twentieth century, leaders in politics, economics, and other fields have commonly referred to economic metrics such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to assess progress. However, GDP does not count activity in which money is not exchanged—what is often called the informal economy—and it discounts fundamental aspects of human progress. Often GDP reinforces and amplifies systemic violations of basic rights through the commodification of individuals and populations.
Human progress can be measured by how governments, industries, and communities treat the most vulnerable, including historically marginalized populations. Increasingly, threats to human progress— including the climate emergency, pandemics and communicable disease risk, chronic disease risk, patterns of violence, and other public health threats—can also be traced to the interrelated treatment of people, animals, and our shared planet.
Our research has shown a need for impact assessment tools and metrics that can be used by professionals, advocates, communities, and policy makers to determine the impact of proposed or existing policies, extractive industries, industrial agriculture, and infrastructure development on the rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the environment.
We are working with economic experts and other professionals to develop these metrics and tools, which move beyond GDP to measure progress in a way that aligns with our most cherished values and aspirations—including the creation of a just society and a sustainable planet.
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.
Learn more about our efforts to advance ethical and just frameworks.