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© Jaime Rojo / WWF-US

the implementation of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets,
developed by the CBD, has stalled due to governance
challenges within national jurisdictions, a lack of funding
for environmental agencies, corruption and a lack of
participation from civil society.141 On the issue of illegal and
high-risk wildlife trade, global monitoring mechanisms lack
the ability to regulate species that are considered high-risk
for public health reasons. The United Nations Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora (CITES) focuses on the trade of species but lacks a
mandate or focus on zoonotic risks.
The current crisis demonstrates that to make
true progress on these issues, systemic change is
required. Whether tackling environmental issues, health
crises or economic challenges, solutions with a single focus
or leverage point are unlikely to be successful, given the
deep interconnections of different systems. Cross-cutting
responses are required, such as promoting more sustainable
and efficient food systems, encouraging healthier and more
sustainable diets, reducing overproduction and consumption,
and moving towards nature-positive and climate-neutral
financial systems that incorporate environmental risks in
their decision-making processes. These solutions must be
coordinated between different actors, including governments,
the private sector, the public, IPLCs, and environment,
animal and health specialists, leading to a general societal
shift to embrace a healthier relationship with the planet.
The COVID-19 crisis is a pivotal moment, in which
the world can and must take action. By tackling
the key drivers of illegal and high-risk wildlife trade and
by increasing the sustainability of food systems through
eliminating deforestation and conversion from supply
chains, stakeholders have the power to make transformative
changes to reduce the impact of environmental drivers on
human health. There is an opportunity to make these changes
by seizing key policy moments in 2020/2021. 2020 was
dubbed a "super year for Nature", and despite some delays
and cancellations due to the COVID-19 crisis, many critical
events for driving transformational shifts will still take place,
including the UN Biodiversity Summit. Now is the moment to
reframe humanity's relationship with nature, reduce the risk
of new zoonotic diseases emerging and recommit to the 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Now, more than ever, public support is aligned
toward driving forward a new sustainability agenda.
As governments are faced with the challenges of rebuilding
economies, stakeholders can work together to fix humanity's
broken relationship with nature. Globally, there is increasing
momentum to introduce new environmental regulations
to reduce the future threats from pandemics. New WWFcommissioned research shows that there is overwhelming
public support across Southeast Asia for a ban on illegal and
unregulated wildlife markets and decreasing willingness to
buy and consume wildlife. Similarly, a recent polling of public
opinion in 14 countries found that 65 per cent of respondents
supported a "green economic recovery" process that would
prioritize the environment and climate change within it.142
A similar phenomenon was observed in the US, as public
support for climate change mitigation measures significantly
increased following exposure to natural disasters linked to
climate change.143 It is therefore essential to build on the
momentum created by the COVID-19 crisis to tackle illegal
and high-risk wildlife trade and unsustainable food systems.
Now is the moment to seize the opportunity to "build back
better". This includes agreeing a New Deal for Nature and
People to halt and reverse the loss of nature and biodiversity
towards a nature-positive world by 2030.
COVID-19 has also demonstrated the power of
global responses to solve urgent challenges. By the
end of March 2020, over 100 countries worldwide had
instituted comprehensive response programmes. Government
investments in response and stimulus packages have been
unprecedented, representing 20 per cent of GDP in Germany
(€750 billion), to 10 per cent of GDP in the US (US$2
trillion).144 There have also been significant shifts in the way
that individuals and communities behave, from respecting
social distancing where possible, to hundreds of thousands
of people volunteering to support community members and
the crisis response.145 The combination of governmental
and individual action demonstrates that by investing in
crisis responses and changing behaviour, humanity can
take positive steps to mitigate urgent threats to human
health. An unparalleled opportunity now exists to address
the unsustainable pressures that are being placed on the
environment, which are risking the health of current and
future generations.



COVID-19 Report

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