Special virtual session for SBSTTA-24 and SBI-03 on biodiversity, One Health and COVID-19
Over the past two days, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) has engaged in a two-day special virtual session on Biodiversity, One Health and Covid-19 facilitated by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The meeting was attended by countries and observer organisation from across the world and offered an opportunity to examine the many links between biodiversity and health.
To date, nearly 1.6 million people have lost their lives from COVID-19 and nearly half of the world’s 3.3 billion global workforce are at risk of losing their livelihoods. Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warns us “future pandemics will emerge more often, spread more rapidly, do more damage to the world economy and kill more people than COVID-19” . In short, we need to shift away from business-as-usual practices in order to prevent future pandemics. Presenting the IPBES workshop report on biodiversity and pandemics, the lead author and chair, Peter Daszak, highlighted that without change, we will see a Covid-like event every decade.
The IPBES report finds that all wildlife trade poses important risks for future pandemics, regardless of whether it is legal or illegal, wild caught or farmed. It leaves us in no doubt that if we’re going to escape the pandemic era and achieve a transformation of our relationship with Nature, we need bold preventive policies that match the science and the threat. DSWF submitted a formal intervention to the Convention yesterday highlighting that in order to achieve a green recovery, we must shift away from exploitation and towards a precautionary approach which acknowledges the relationship between nature and public health. Specifically, DSWF called to:
- End commercial legal wildlife trade and farming as much as possible and as fast as possible, with a just transition
- Ensure subsistence wildlife use is safe and sustainable
- Step up the fight to end wildlife trade
- Integrate knowledge and experience from Indigenous Peoples who know how to live safely and sustainably with wildlife
Next year we have a unique opportunity to re-calibrate our relationship with Nature. 2021 will see the launch of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, a roadmap for biodiversity conservation to 2030. The current draft of this instrumental document has a fatal flaw, however, in its promotion of legal sustainable safe trade. This must be re-evaluated. Without a precautionary approach and an end to commercial wildlife trade, we will almost certainly find ourselves in the same position in the not too distant future.
 IPBES (2020) Workshop Report on Biodiversity and Pandemics of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Daszak, P., das Neves, C., Amuasi, J., Hayman, D., Kuiken, T., Roche, B., Zambrana-Torrelio, C., Buss, P., Dundarova, H., Feferholtz, Y., Foldvari, G., Igbinosa, E., Junglen, S., Liu, Q., Suzan, G., Uhart, M., Wannous, C., Woolaston, K., Mosig Reidl, P., O’Brien, K., Pascual, U., Stoett, P., Li, H., Ngo, H. T., IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany, DOI:10.5281/zenodo.4147317