UNEP-IEMP Director Zhang Linxiu participated in the kick-off meeting of the UNEP-NSFC International (Regional) Joint Research Project

  • 01 February 2024  |  News

On January 24th, 2024, the kick-off meeting of the Major International (Regional) Joint Research Project, “Urban Soil Biodiversity: Regulator for Zoonotic Pathogens and Its Risks to Human Health”, was held at the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), in Xiamen City, Fujian Province, China. The participants included project team members and experts from the Institute of Urban Environment, CAS; Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, CAS;  Wuhan Botanical Garden, CAS; Zhejiang University; Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University; Wuhan Institute of Technology; Peking University; Lanzhou University; and UNEP-IEMP. The meeting was hosted by Prof. Xin Lu (Chief of the Science and Technology Division of the Institute of Urban Environment, CAS), and welcomed by Prof. Shaohua Chen (Secretary of the Party Committee of the Institute of Urban Environment, CAS) and, subsequently, Prof. Linxiu Zhang (Director of UNEP-IEMP) officially announced the launch of the project.

In the meeting, Prof. Xin Sun (project leader, Institute of Urban Environment, CAS) gave a detailed presentation on various aspects of the project, including the research significance and scientific questions, research content and implementation plan, research team and division of work, as well as annual plans and expected outcomes. Then, the meeting thoroughly discussed the implementation plan and suggested on specific details, such as the selection of representative cities, international collaborative team management, and the format of project outputs. Afterwards, Prof. Jianming Xu (Zhejiang University) led the discussion on the work plan.

The project integrates the strengths and resources of three institutions: Institute of Urban Environment, CAS; the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS; and Peking University. Collaborating with interdisciplinary research teams from multiple regions, including Asia, Africa, Australia, and Europe, this project aims to assess the relationship between soil biodiversity and zoonotic pathogens in the context of urbanization. It investigates the global distribution pattern and driving mechanisms of zoonotic pathogens in urban green space soil. In addition, the project analyzes the regulatory mechanisms of urban biodiversity and environmental factors on zoonotic pathogens and ultimately assesses the risk of zoonotic pathogens in the context of global urbanization.

The results of the project are expected to contribute to several urban-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and have important implications for the well-beings of urban residents and the realization of sustainable urban development. As a  collaborative research project between the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the project is carried out on the basis of mutual agreement, with special attention given to cooperation and support for developing countries in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

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