COVID-19 and our relationship with nature: Insights from WWF International

panda distanceThis COVID-19 pandemic is yet another manifestation of our dangerously unbalanced relationship with nature. If a zoonotic emerging infectious disease was to combine high transmission rates during the asymptomatic phase, like COVID-19, with higher fatality rates like with Ebola, the consequences would be devastating.

This global crisis has indeed highlighted the risks we are taking by degrading and destabilising nature and it has highlighted the fact that protecting nature and its amazing diversity of life, is protecting ourselves. Early into the COVID-19 crisis WWF released a brilliant report, that we recommend you read and share, initiated by WWF-Italy entitled: “The loss of nature and the rise of pandemics”.

This pandemic gives us license to push for systemic change

Our nature-based ‘health insurance’ policy should go broader. The drivers of wildlife trade and wild meat consumption, land use change, intensification of agriculture and livestock production are interacting in ways that amplify and accelerate the risk for an emerging infectious disease event.

To prevent future and even more catastrophic pandemics, WWF states that trade and consumption of high-risk wildlife should be highly regulated or eliminated, while also considering the distinction and needs of subsistence consumption required for communities from the Arctic first nations to the forest dependent indigenous communities around the world.

As we emerge from this crisis, we must embrace a just and green transition towards an economic model that values nature as the foundation for a healthy society and a thriving economy. This is our chance to put things right and rebalance our relationship with the planet. To call for nature-based solutions that enhance human health and safety. “The time has come to correct these design defects in our economic and corporate models”, says WWF International President, Pavan Sukhdev, in his latest blog.

Be sure to follow the links in this article for the full picture!

Kirtanya Lutchminarayan: WWF-SASSI