WOAH Director General
“Innovative technologies for pathogen surveillance and detection”
In the last 20 years, the world has witnessed major technological innovations and the amount and speed of circulating information and knowledge have reached unprecedented levels. Meanwhile, the growing concerns about biodiversity have underscored the necessity for enhanced wildlife health surveillance and pathogen detection to safeguard biodiversity and ensure the health and well-being of domestic animals and humans.
These technological innovations bring benefits and challenges. The environmental footprint of the production and use of some technologies is undeniable. Notably, the extraction of minerals or deforestation to increase grazing areas have impacted the habitat of wild species and increased population fragmentation, rendering them more vulnerable to diseases.
At the same time, there are many opportunities for well-designed and well-used innovative technologies to help protect wildlife, and the health of wildlife, domestic animals and humans. For instance,
- remote sensing or biosensors can improve disease detection, especially in the context of international trade.
- Non-invasive drone-based monitoring of wild populations and eDNA screening reduce capture stress and enable risk-based interventions.
- Interconnected information systems can allow rapid information sharing on pathogen detection from the field to decision-makers, hence, allowing early risk assessment and rapid response.
As enduring allies on the global stage, committed to safeguarding animal health and preserving biodiversity respectively, there is a compelling opportunity for WOAH and CITES to strengthen the synergy between individuals, projects, tools and ideas.
This is the way forward together.
I wish you all a good World Wildlife Day 2024.