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 Peter Daszak:
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 ones.
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.