Do Not Increase the Risk of the Next Pandemic! Warns UN, WHO and WWF


According to the UN and WHO, pandemics result from humanity’s destruction of nature, reports The Guardian.

Experts from the UN, WHO and WWF International call for legislation and trade deals worldwide to encourage green recovery.

Ignored reality

Pandemics such as Coronavirus result from humanity’s destruction of nature, according to leaders at the UN, WHO and WWF International. The leaders added that the world has been ignoring this stark reality for decades.

Disease spread

The driving forces behind the increasing number of diseases from wildlife to humans are:

  • illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade 
  • the devastation of forests and other wild places.

Call for Green recovery 

They are calling for a green and healthy recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular by reforming destructive farming and unsustainable diets.

WWF warning

A recently published WWF report warns:

“The risk of a new wildlife-to-human disease emerging in the future is higher than ever, with the potential to wreak havoc on health, economies and global security.”

Post-Brexit trade deals 

WWF’s head in the UK said post-Brexit trade deals that fail to protect nature would leave Britain “complicit in increasing the risk of the next pandemic.”

“We cannot be complicit in increasing the risk of the next pandemic. We need strong legislation and trade deals that stop us importing food that is the result of rampant deforestation or whose production ignores poor welfare and environmental standards in producer countries. The government has a golden opportunity to make transformative, world-leading change happen.”

Rapid halt required

High-level figures have issued a series of warnings since March, with the world’s leading biodiversity experts saying even more deadly disease outbreaks are likely in future unless the rampant destruction of the natural world is rapidly halted.

SOS signal for humans 

In June, the UN environment chief and a leading economist said Covid-19 was an SOS signal for the human enterprise”. 

The current economic thinking did not recognise that human wealth depends on nature’s health.

Disease spread due to severe environmental pressures

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, head of the UN convention on biological diversity, Maria Neira, the World Health Organization director for environment and health, and Marco Lambertini, head of WWF International said:

“We have seen many diseases emerge over the years, such as Zika, Aids, Sars and Ebola and they all originated from animal populations under conditions of severe environmental pressures.” 

Unbalanced relationship

According to the leaders, human’s dangerously unbalanced relationship with nature is the cause for coronavirus and other pandemics and they illustrate that “our own destructive behaviour towards nature is endangering our own health, a stark reality we’ve been collectively ignoring for decades.”

Hasty environmental rollbacks 

While Covid-19 has given us yet another reason to protect and preserve nature, it is seen that a reverse is taking place. 

Alarming reports have emerged from the Greater Mekong, to the Amazon and Madagascar, revealing:

  • increased poaching, 
  • illegal logging,
  • forest fires, and
  • countries engaging in hasty environmental rollbacks and cuts in funding for conservation. 

And all this comes at a time when we need to realise and balance our relationship with nature.

Transformation towards a healthy society

“We must embrace a just, healthy and green recovery and kickstart a wider transformation towards a model that values nature as the foundation for a healthy society. Not doing so, and instead attempting to save money by negPandemics result from destruction of nature, say UN and WHOlecting environmental protection, health systems, and social safety nets, has already proven to be a false economy. The bill will be paid many times over.”

Law to eliminate destruction of nature

Key drivers

The WWF report concludes the key drivers for diseases from wild animals to humans are :

  • the destruction of nature, 
  • the intensification of agriculture,
  • livestock production, and 
  • the trading and consumption of high-risk wildlife.

Action from governments 

The report urges all governments to introduce and enforce laws to eliminate the destruction of nature from supply chains of goods and on the public to make their diets more sustainable.

Commodities linked to deforestation

The few commodities frequently linked to deforestation are beef, palm oil and soy. According to scientists, the only best way for people to reduce their environmental impact on the planet is avoiding meat and dairy products.

The WWF report said 60-70% of the new diseases that have emerged in humans since 1990 came from wildlife. That is the period when 178m hectares of forest have been cleared, equivalent to more than seven times the area of the UK.

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Source: The Guardian