[Ipbes-stakeholder] IPBES: Biodiversity Scientists: "COVID-19 Stimulus Must Safeguard Nature to Reduce Risk of Future Pandemics

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Mon Apr 27 14:18:19 CEST 2020

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Van: IPBES Communications Team <media at ipbes.net>
Date: ma 27 apr. 2020 om 14:08
Subject: Biodiversity Scientists: "COVID-19 Stimulus Must Safeguard Nature
to Reduce Risk of Future Pandemics
To: Hilde <hilde.eggermont at naturalsciences.be>

IPBES Expert Guest Article
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This Guest Article has been published today by the three co-chairs of the
IPBES Global Assessment Report, together with IPBES nexus assessment
scoping expert Dr. Peter Daszak. Click here to read this article in  عربى
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*IPBES Expert Guest Article by Professors Josef Settele, Sandra Díaz and
Eduardo Brondizio  and Dr. Peter Daszak on 27 April 2020
COVID-19 Stimulus Measures Must  Save Lives, Protect Livelihoods, and
Safeguard Nature to Reduce the Risk of Future Pandemics*

There is a single species that is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic -
us. As with the climate and biodiversity crises, recent pandemics are a
direct consequence of human activity – particularly our global financial
and economic systems, based on a limited paradigm that prizes economic
growth at any cost. We have a small window of opportunity, in overcoming
the challenges of the current crisis, to avoid sowing the seeds of future

Diseases like COVID-19 are caused by microorganisms that infect our bodies
– with more than 70% of all emerging diseases affecting people having
originated in wildlife and domesticated animals. Pandemics, however, are
caused by activities that bring increasing numbers of people into direct
contact and often conflict with the animals that carry these pathogens.

Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive
farming, mining and infrastructure development, as well as the exploitation
of wild species have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of
diseases from wildlife to people. This often occurs in areas where
communities live that are most vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Our actions have significantly impacted more than three quarters of the
Earth’s land surface, destroyed more than 85% of wetlands and dedicated
more than a third of all land and almost 75% of available freshwater to
crops and livestock production.

Add to this the unregulated trade in wild animals and the explosive growth
of global air travel and it becomes clear how a virus that once circulated
harmlessly among a species of bats in Southeast Asia has now infected more
almost 2 million people, brought untold human suffering and halted
economies and societies around the world. This is the human hand in
pandemic emergence.

Yet this may be only the beginning. Although animal-to-human diseases
already cause an estimated 700,000 deaths each year, the potential for
future pandemics is vast. As many as 1.7 million unidentified viruses of
the type known to infect people are believed to still exist in mammals and
water birds. Any one of these could be the next ‘Disease X’ – potentially
even more disruptive and lethal than COVID-19.

Future pandemics are likely to happen more frequently, spread more rapidly,
have greater economic impact and kill more people if we are not extremely
careful about the possible impacts of the choices we make today.

Most immediately we need to ensure that the actions being taken to reduce
the impacts of the current pandemic aren’t themselves amplifying the risks
of future outbreaks and crises. There are three important considerations
that should be central to the multi-trillion-dollar recovery and economic
stimulus plans already being implemented.

First, we must ensure the strengthening and enforcement of environmental
regulations – and only deploy stimulus packages that offer incentives for
more sustainable and nature-positive activities. It may be politically
expedient at this time to relax environmental standards and to prop up
industries such as intensive agriculture, long-distance transportation such
as the airlines, and fossil-fuel-dependent energy sectors, but doing so
without requiring urgent and fundamental change, essentially subsidizes the
emergence of future pandemics.

Second, we should adopt a ‘One Health’ approach at all levels of
decision-making – from the global to the most local – recognizing the
complex interconnections among the health of people, animals, plants and
our shared environment. Forestry departments, for example, usually set
policy related to deforestation, and profits accrue largely to the private
sector – but it is public health systems and local communities that often
pay the price of resulting disease outbreaks. A One Health approach would
ensure that better decisions are made that take into account long-term
costs and consequences of development actions – for people and nature.

Third, we have to properly fund and resource health systems and incentivise
behaviour change on the frontlines of pandemic risk. This means mobilising
international finance to build health capacity in emerging disease hotspots
– such as clinics; surveillance programs, especially in partnership with
Indigenous Peoples and local communities; behavioural risk surveys; and
specific intervention programs. It also entails offering viable and
sustainable alternatives to high-risk economic activities and protecting
the health of the most vulnerable. This is not simple altruism – it is
vital investment in the interests of all to prevent future global outbreaks.

Perhaps most importantly, we need transformative change – the kind
highlighted last year in the IPBES Global Assessment Report
(the one that found a million species of plants and animals are at risk of
extinction in coming decades): fundamental, system-wide reorganization
across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms,
goals and values, promoting social and environmental responsibilities
across all sectors. As daunting and costly as this may sound – it pales in
comparison to the price we are already paying.

Responding to the COVID-19 crisis calls for us all to confront the vested
interests that oppose transformative change, and to end ‘business as
usual’. We can build back better and emerge from the current crisis
stronger and more resilient than ever – but to do so means choosing
policies and actions that protect nature – so that nature can help to
protect us.

*Enquiries and Interviews: **media at ipbes.net* <media at ipbes.net>

*Note**:** The above article
is not a formal product of IPBES – but of the four authors who are leading
global experts in their own right – building on the results of approved
IPBES Assessment Reports. Work is currently underway on three IPBES
assessments with direct relevance to the current crisis and future
pandemics: an assessment on the **sustainable use of wild species*
another on **invasive alien species*
and one on the different ways of understanding the **plural values of
Work has also just begun on scoping a new **IPBES nexus assessment*
on the interlinkages between biodiversity, water, food and health in the
context of climate change**.      *

*Follow IPBES: *
*twitter.com/@ipbes* <twitter.com/@ipbes>



Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem
Services (IPBES)

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*Hilde Eggermont*, PhD
Coordinator of the Belgian Biodiversity Platform
Vice-Chair of the BiodivERsA  <http://www.biodiversa.org/>Partnership
IPBES <http://www.biodiversity.be/ipbes> National Focal Point
IUCN <http://www.biodiversity.be/iucn> National Focal Point, and IUCN
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (OD Nature
Mobile: (+32) 473-613675; Skype: hildeeggermont; LinkedIn:

[image: 🌎]*Make a difference. Make your diet as plant-based as possible *
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