Alianza One Health Selva Maya (AOHSM)

GIZ/ Klaus Peter Schnellbach
Published: 08 March 2023
Last edited: 08 March 2023
remove_red_eye 1301 Views


The Selva Maya is Centralamerica's largest rainforest and is home to over 20 ecosystems, thus a biodiversity hotspot. At the same time, the natural resources are highly endangered by anthropegenic threats such as deforestation, forest fires, fragmentation of habitats for agriculture and cattle, tourism. The tropical climate favours vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria and yellow fever. Due to unregulated trafic, commerce and consumption of wildlife and wildlife products humans and their pets get into ever closer contact with the fauna, all of which increases the risks of zoonotic spillovers. Hence, the GIZ Selva Maya programme coordinated a process of co-creation with all relevant stakeholders from the three countries from politics, academia, civil society, NGOs to forge an alliance to reduce the risks of zoonosis and improve the overall wellbeing of the flora and fauna of the Selva Maya. Through a series of meetings the stakeholders launched the Alianza One Health Selva Maya (AOHSM).


Central America
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Pool, lake, pond
River, stream
Tropical deciduous forest
Tropical evergreen forest
Access and benefit sharing
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Forest Management
Gender mainstreaming
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Invasive alien species
Local actors
One Health
Poaching and environmental crime
Protected and conserved areas governance
Science and research
Traditional knowledge
Water provision and management
World Heritage
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Wildlife Health Surveillance (to capture biodiversity, health, disease, and pathogen surveillance)
Species Disease Early warning systems
Risk communication, community engagement and behaviour change
Outbreak investigation and access to laboratory
One Health coordination mechanism
One Health
Animal health
Biodiversity-health nexus
Food systems
Good governance of landscapes
Health effects of climate change and pollution
Health related aspects of socio-economic factors such as poverty, education, social security structures, digitalisation, financing systems, human capacity development 
Neglected tropical diseases, emerging infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance
Water, sanitation and hygiene
Wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflicts
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Tropical cyclones / Typhoons
Vector and water borne diseases
Volcanic eruption
Ecosystem loss
Invasive species
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Infrastructure development
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Physical resource extraction
Lack of food security
Lack of infrastructure
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Social conflict and civil unrest
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 9: Invasive alien species prevented and controlled
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge


Petén, Guatemala
Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico


The Selva Maya ecosystem services of water storage and supply in the region and its function as a carbon sink are threatened by unsustainable land-use, population growth and migration, illegal logging and trade in flora and fauna, oil extraction and ecosystem fragmentation. Furthermore, the degradation of ecosystems reduces their ability to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. Ecosystem fragmentation is causing more frequent contact between humans and their animals with wildlife in the Selva Maya. These encounters create risks of disease transmission and can potentially lead to pandemics. Numerous zoonotic agents, of viral and bacterial origin, have already been identified, which can cause, for example, respiratory diseases. At the moment, governance structures with good opportunities for cooperation already exist in the region, but there is a lack of willingness for joint action in the event of another pandemic. 


The beneficiaries are the flora, fauna and human inhabitants of the Selva Maya region. Members of the AOHSM are beneficiaries in the sense that their organisations, work and research receive higher visibility, networking and funding opportunities.

How do the building blocks interact?

The grant recipients are technical and academic experts in One Health and related topics. The have been identified as the Selva Maya One Health "champions" and therefore as primary stakeholders in the MSP Alianza One Health Selva Maya. As they already believe in the success of the One Health approach, and have excellent networks both at policy level and community level, they are key in the process of co-creating the MSP and convincing new members. 


With its multidisciplinary approach, the Alianza provides a place for regional and cross-sectoral dialogue that facilitates synergies, knowledge transfer, integration of experience, sharing of evidence, awareness-raising, support for pilot projects and dissemination of lessons learned. It has catalysed joint action by stakeholders from various fields, including biological, biomedical and health sciences, ecology, human and veterinary medicine, as well as development cooperation and social sciences, as well as various forms of knowledge. In addition, the Alianza supports the translation of science and knowledge into recommendations for policy decision-making and the improvement of epidemiological surveillance, while noting the importance of prevention. The AOHSM integrated traditional forms of knowledge and science-based approaches to arrive at inclusive and evidence-based recommendations, and seeks to advance joint/individual actions around them. Members work actively in thematic working groups: a) Research and Academia, b) Monitoring and Surveillance, c) Vector and zoonotic diseases, d) Water, Air and Soils, c) Traditional and Local Knowledge. Provided with small budgets, the working groups will execute in 2023 their first joint activities on the ground.


GIZ/ Klaus Peter Schnellbach

At the annual operation planning meeting in Mexico in March 2022 the One Health approached was presented to selected stakeholders from various fields, including biological, biomedical and health sciences, ecology, human and veterinary medicine, as well as development cooperation and social sciences from the Selva Maya region. Throught four days, participants recevied capacity building in Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) development and One Health project implementation with a strong focus on environmental health and conservation. Stakeholders were invited to propose names, objetictives, and working group topics of interest to form a regional MSP to improve the wellbeing of the Selva Maya. Votes were casted and the name Alianza One Health Selva Maya (AOHSM) was democratically voted for. In August, the AOHSM launched the pilot version of its virtual dialogue platform and website. Throughout the timeframe of 5 months the website received feedback on the user experience for improvements. In November 2022 the members of the AOHSM met for the first official face-to-face meeting that led to countless sinergies and strengthened a regional One Health identity. Interdisciplinary and multisectoral working groups were formed and started to work on action plans for 2023. 

Contributed by

alice.brandt_41503's picture

Alice Brandt Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH