Edinburgh has been chosen as the host city for a global life sciences conference which explores the links between animal, human and environmental health – with the aim of reducing infectious disease outbreaks.

Scotland’s capital will welcome more than 2,000 delegates to the 6th World One Health Congress in 2020 – injecting £3.3m into the local economy and boosting the city’s reputation as a global life sciences hub.

The event, which will be staged over four days, was secured on the back of a competetive bid process between rival European cities, who cannot be named for reasons of confidentiality.

Convention Edinburgh, Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), the city’s medical and veterinary community and Scotland, worked on the electronic bid, followed by two site visits to the city, which were “key” to securing the conference. The results of the bid process were announced in June at the organisation’s conference in Saskatoon, Canada, and Convention Edinburgh organised a piper to mark the occasion.

Amanda Ferguson, Head of Conventions for Marketing Edinburgh said: “It is an honour for Edinburgh to be confirmed as host destination for this prestigious event.  The capital is renowned for its expertise in the health, environmental and life sciences sectors, as illustrated in our Make it Edinburgh campaign, and we welcome the opportunity to welcome experts from across the world to enable potentially life-changing collaboration.”

One Health is an international movement that aims to ‘attain optimal health and well-being for people, domestic animals, wildlife and the environment, by bringing together various disciplines to make a difference to society and the lives of people’.  The organisation aims to enhance understanding of and preparedness for current and future outbreaks of infectious diseases in humans and animals, such as Ebola, including the ecological and environmental factors which impact on these diseases.

The event is an opportunity for Scotland to spotlight its sector expertise and ‘world-class’ research, which is delivering solutions to global challenges within livestock industries, and veterinary and human medicine.

Professor Anna Meredith and Dr Neil Anderson were key members of the bid team. Professor Meredith, University of Edinburgh, said: “We are thrilled to host the Sixth World One Health Congress in Edinburgh in 2020, welcoming international health scientists and professionals, opinion leaders and policy makers from the One Health community to Scotland’s capital.  As a global facing university, we have vibrant One Health and global health partnerships nationally and internationally, and we look forward to showcasing the work of Scotland’s world-leading collective of research institutes, and engaging with other stakeholders to improve the health of people, animals and the environment.”

Dr Neil Anderson, Programme Director MSc One Health and MVetSci Conservation at the University of Edinburgh, added: “The implementation of One Health requires a paradigm shift in how we manage the health of people, animals, plants and the ecosystems which support them. The conference will provide an ideal platform to discuss the practical implementation of One Health across the research, policy and practice arenas.”

The Scottish Government, which supported Convention Edinburgh on the bid, is at the forefront in developing integrated policies spanning health, agriculture, food, and environment.  John Swinney MSP Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, said: “Scotland and Edinburgh have a longstanding track record for excellence and innovation in research and development on animal and human health and well-being. Hosting the 6th World One Health Congress in 2020 will help further our reputation as a global leader in medicine, animal health, technology and the life sciences and will put Scotland and Edinburgh firmly at the heart of policy and research development in this key issue.”

On behalf of One Health Platform (OHP): “The One Health Platform is very much looking forward to working together with Scotland’s research institutes, the Scottish government, the EICC and Marketing Edinburgh on making the 6th World One Health Congress a big success”, says Prof. Ab Osterhaus, OHP co-chair.

Marshall Dallas, Chief Executive of the EICC, which is staging the conference, said: “The World One Health Congress is highly-respected within the international health community, where it takes a pioneering approach to global health threats and the development of effective medicines.  We went head-to-head with a number of other major European cities to win the conference for Edinburgh, with the reputation of Scotland’s capital as a centre for excellence in life sciences, and our city’s collaborative approach, helping to secure the bid.  The EICC has a strong track record in attracting some of the largest conferences in the field of health to Edinburgh and we look forward to hosting this significant event in June 2020.”

The 6th World One Health Congress will take place from 15-18 June 2020 at the EICC.