Integrated approach to a healthy living environment: One Health and Planetary Health

How can we connect research, policy, education and practice with global environmental changes and human, animal and planetary health? We are seeing a new, rapidly growing field of research that generates knowledge for public health and ties in with the One Health and Planetary Health approach.

One Health: humans, animals and the environment

The term healthy living environment relates closely to the internationally commonly employed One Health approach. This approach focuses on specific knowledge and experiences from different domains, and their overlap. The aim is a healthy ecosystem that includes humans, animals and the environment. The One Health approach also emphasises that combined efforts from different domains together are more than the sum of the potential achievable by each domain, acting individually. Many of the research projects funded by us into antibiotic resistance and antimicrobial resistance are based on a One Health approach.

Transnational problem demands a coherent approach

Infectious diseases constantly represent new threats and do not stop at national boundaries. The same applies to antimicrobial resistance. The occurrence of antimicrobial resistance is growing, worldwide. This is one of the undesirable side effects of the use of antimicrobial agents. The COVID-19 pandemic has also underlined the urgency inherent in the transnational problems that require a coherent vision and approach. One of the visions that is increasingly being discussed is One Health: the approach to health from a human, veterinary and environmental perspective; at local, national and international level.

Various initiatives for One Health

In the fields of policy, research and practice, there are numerous different, multidisciplinary collaborative ventures at both national and international level. ZonMw is a participant in a number of those ventures as research funder or as linking element. Read the interview with Merel Langelaar (only available in Dutch) about how well the One Health approach is being implemented in the Netherlands. Langelaar is professor of Policy and impact in veterinary medicine at the University of Utrecht and member of the core team of the cluster committee on Health Protection at ZonMw.

Planetary Health: global changes and human health

Another approach is Planetary Health. This approach examines the relationship between environmental changes in the world and human health. The KNAW is preparing an inventory of which scientific knowledge is necessary to better understand this relationship, and to permit action to be taken. We have delivered input. The recommendation to be issued by KNAW will be a translation of this international subject to the Dutch situation, and will make an agenda-setting contribution to various ministries. Wherever possible we will include Planetary Health in our existing and new research programming.

What are we doing?

We finance good-quality research, bring stakeholders together (policy, practice, research and education) and encourage the implementation of research results. Mutual dependence and cooperation are essential elements in the chain. Our aim is to establish links with stakeholders in order to arrive at an integrated approach to health. Our spearheads are infectious disease, antimicrobial resistance, nutrition, climate change, a healthy living environment, and microplastics.


If you have any questions, you are able to find our contact information below.


Martine Hoofwijk

Senior programme manager Healthy living environment
gezondeleefomgeving [at]

Gerlinde van der Stok

Programme secretary Healthy living environment
gezondeleefomgeving [at]

Ilse Rensen

Programme secretary Healthy living environment
gezondeleefomgeving [at]