COVID 19: URGENT CALL | WWF India

New zoonotic diseases are emerging at an alarming rate, driven by humanity’s broken relationship with nature.

In recent decades, people have increasingly encroached upon the natural world, resulting in escalating levels of contact between humans, livestock and wildlife. As a result, the frequency and number of new zoonotic diseases, originating in animals and transmitted to people, has risen drastically over the last century. Every year, around three to four new zoonotic diseases are emerging. These new diseases pose a grave threat to human health, causing deadly pandemics including HIV/AIDS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and most recently COVID-19. The increased emergence of zoonotic diseases is linked to two widespread environmental risks:

  • Driven by unsustainable food systems, the large-scale conversion of land for agriculture is increasing interactions between wildlife, livestock and humans. Land conversion is destroying and fragmenting forests and other natural habitats around the world, resulting in higher levels of contact between wildlife, livestock and humans. This problem is only set to worsen as the challenge of feeding a growing population increases and diets shift.
  • Poor food safety standards, including permitting the trade and consumption of high-risk wildlife species, are increasing human exposure to animal pathogens. Globally, demand for wild meat is growing, as either a delicacy or a necessity, driving increased sale and consumption, and increasing the potential for exposure to diseases during high-risk sourcing, handling and preparation practices.

KEY DRIVERS OF NEW ZOONOTIC DISEASES

WWF’S CALL FOR GLOBAL ACTION TO REDUCE THE RISK OF FUTURE PANDEMICS AND HEAL OUR BROKEN RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE

WWF CALLS ON ALL GOVERNMENTS TO:

  • Halt the high-risk wildlife trade and increase enforcement to combat illicit wildlife trade.
  • Introduce and enforce legislation and policy actions to eliminate deforestation and conversion from supply chains.
  • Commit to and provide adequate finance for the implementation of an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
  • Commit to a New Deal for Nature and People, that puts nature on the path of recovery for the benefit of all people and the planet, with three goals: • Protect and restore natural habitats • Safeguard the diversity of life • Halve the footprint of production and consumption.
  • Incorporate a One Health approach – linking the health of humans, animals and our shared environment – within decision-making on wildlife and landuse change.
  • Design COVID-19 economic recovery packages that ensure a green and just transition and facilitate increased investment in sustainable and resilient business models.
  • Support vulnerable communities to protect their food security and livelihoods in sustainable and resilient ways, including the recognition of indigenous peoples’ land and water rights

WWF CALLS ON ALL COMPANIES AND INDUSTRIES TO:

  • Implement and strengthen all voluntary environmental measures during and after the crisis.
  • Deliver credible action to decrease the environmental footprint of food supply chains, including promoting sustainable production, ensuring supplier traceability to points of origin, and encouraging consumers to make sustainable dietary choices.
  • Support policies and legislation that ensure all production and consumption of agricultural commodities are free from deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems.
  • Incorporate a One Health approach within all business and financing decisions, particularly risks related to threats to global health.
  • Develop and implement innovative financial mechanisms and solutions that have positive environmental and social outcomes.

WWF CALLS ON CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS TO:

  • Support vulnerable communities directly affected by the crisis and its environmental drivers, ensuring that they are adequately represented in recovery efforts.
  • Work together with governments and industries to develop sustainable solutions that reduce illegal and highrisk wildlife exploitation and transform our food systems.
  • Increase accountability of international institutions, governments and industries that fail to take action in the wake of the crisis.

WWF CALLS ON THE PUBLIC TO:

  • Engage with our government representatives to ensure that they commit to a New Deal for Nature and People, take action to protect natural ecosystems, and strengthen their nature and climate commitments.
  • Call on industries to demonstrate leadership through decreasing their negative impacts on society and the environment
  • Shift their dietary and consumption habits to make more sustainable choices.
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