One Planet Summit: launch of PREZODE, a first-ever international initiative to prevent future pandemics

Institutional news 11 January 2021
Under the aegis of France, and notably the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, PREZODE, an initiative to prevent emerging zoonotic risks and pandemics, was announced on the occasion of the One Planet Summit for biodiversity on 11 January. Three French research institutes – INRAE, CIRAD and IRD – have teamed up with around ten other research bodies* in France, Germany and the Netherlands to launch PREZODE, which has already mobilized more than 1000 researchers.
Deforestation and biodiversity loss lead to an increase in human-animal contacts, and subsequently to new disease outbreaks © C. Bourgoin, CIRAD
Deforestation and biodiversity loss lead to an increase in human-animal contacts, and subsequently to new disease outbreaks © C. Bourgoin, CIRAD

Deforestation and biodiversity loss lead to an increase in human-animal contacts, and subsequently to new disease outbreaks © C. Bourgoin, CIRAD

Over the past 50 years, the emergence of health crises linked to zoonoses has been picking up speed. Indeed, some 75% of these human infectious diseases which originate from animal reservoirs are due to pressure on biodiversity.

The crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the world, taking a very heavy human, economic and social toll. Now more than ever, a One Health approach that does not separate human health, animal welfare and the environment is in order, to prevent or manage new pandemics. Viruses and bacteria that plague man are multiplying and their recurrence seems to be a given. That is why it is crucial that science stay a step ahead of future health crises by anticipating the risks of emerging diseases and detecting them early on, to be able to take steps before disease spreads. Several studies have shown that investing in disease prevention would significantly reduce the cost of having to deal with crises.

The PREZODE initiative aims to keep the risk of emerging zoonoses and pandemics in check. It is built on and strengthens existing cooperation between the regions of the world (Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Middle East, Latin America and Europe) that are most exposed to emerging zoonotic diseases. PREZODE is designed to incorporate and reinforce networks on human health, animal welfare and the environment. In line with the One Health concept, it aims to better evaluate and detect emerging zoonotic threats and develop preventive measures with all players to protect humans, the planet, and socio-ecosystems. And in doing so, PREZODE reduces the threat of pandemics.

Five pillars, five working groups

This initiative is in line with the creation of the One-Health High-Level Expert Council announced on 12 November 2020 at the Paris Peace Forum. As stated by Mr Qu Dongyu, Director General of FAO: “We commend the PREZODE programme which initiates global cooperation which could play a major role in the science which guides our decisions and actions at all levels. We fully support PREZODE and believe that it can provide factual orientations that are needed on the priorities of the interinstitutional work on One Health, in particular concerning the integrity of ecosystems, biodiversity and health activities”.

The PREZODE initiative is in line with recent recommendations of the report on biodiversity and pandemics published by IPBES in October 2020.

The five pillars of PREZODE are:

  • Zoonotic risk analysis
  • Reducing zoonotic risk
  • Early detection and evaluation of socioeconomic impacts
  • An international zoonotic risk monitoring system
  • Stakeholder engagement and joint development of regional health and biodiversity networks.

Appropriate and reliable socio-ecosystems

The goal of the initiative is to build the right socio-ecosystems that are resilient and reduce the risk of emerging zoonoses while strengthening biodiversity and combating poverty and food insecurity.

PREZODE aims to unite and complete many existing projects. The joint effort of researchers, local communities and policymakers to find the right solutions should ultimately lead to: identifying and reducing the main factors at the root of emerging zoonosis risks; jointly developing policies that do not separate human health, animal welfare and biodiversity; One Health monitoring systems in real time; and strengthened public-private partnerships and open dialogue between science, policymakers, and society.

A research-action programme ready to go in 2022

In 2021, PREZODE will outline a scientific and strategic plan of action, put a governance system in place, and draw up a road map, all complete with performance indicators. A digital platform for collecting and sharing data will also be set up jointly with all stakeholders. Partners will also run, both at global level and in relevant countries and regions, an analysis of the steps needed to incorporate health systems (in terms of the environment, animals and humans) and biodiversity by combining research (including social sciences) and practical steps decided with local communities. This first-ever programme of research and concrete action will thus be ready to go in 2022.

This worldwide programme will combine research and practical steps. It was shared in December 2020 with more than 400 participants from 50 countries on five continents with the goal of open co-construction. International organizations such as WHO, OIE, FAO, UNEP**, the World Bank and the European Commission have all expressed a keen interest in the initiative.

I am very pleased with the PREZODE initiative (…) The world needs health for all, by all, for One Health, therefore let’s act holistically, coherently, collectively and historically!”, stressed FAO Director General Qu Dongyu.

A look back at the making of this international alliance on video

* In France, notably with ANSES, the Institut Pasteur, INSERM, CNRS and CNES; in Germany with Helmholtz, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute and the Charité Institute of Virology; and in the Netherlands with Wageningen University and Research.

** WHO: World Health Organization – OIE: World Organization for Animal Health – FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization – UNEP: United Nations Environment Programme.


Marisa Peyre,Gwenaël Vourc'h,Thierry Lefrançois,Yves Martin-Prevel,Jean-François Soussana,Benjamin Roche. 2021. PREZODE: preventing zoonotic disease emergence. The Lancet