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The development, and in some cases increasing prevalence, of resistance to antimicrobials used in clinical and veterinary settings has long been recognised. In recent years, the concept of ‘One Health’ has added recognition of the role that the environment plays in health protection along with the need for protection of the health of the environment itself. Organisations including the World Health Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, and national governments have identified a need for surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in the environment to sit alongside the surveillance carried out in clinical, veterinary and food sectors. However, having recognised the need for environmental surveillance there are multiple challenges in deciding what this should entail. For example, what pathogens or genes to monitor, who or what we wish to protect and what measures we wish to enable to decrease infection risks. That might include sampling near a source of resistant organisms entering the environment or conversely sampling where the exposure actually occurs. Choices need to be made at both policy and technical levels based on the detailed purposes of surveillance. This paper discusses these issues from the perspective of a national environmental regulator.


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