COVID-19 Report - 6

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.
The risk of a new zoonotic disease emerging in
the future is higher than ever, with the potential
to wreak havoc on health, economies and global
security. The COVID-19 crisis exemplifies the devastating
costs of global pandemics. Between December 2019 and
May 2020, over 370,000 people died from COVID-19
related causes in more than 200 countries, which is just
under three times the number of people killed by armed
conflict and terrorism every year. The economic impact
has been estimated at between US$2.4 and US$8.8 trillion
in lost output, which is almost three times the GDP of the
UK. Almost half of the world's workforce is at risk of losing
their livelihoods, with the social and economic effects
disproportionately affecting already marginalized groups,
including women and indigenous communities. The drastic
shifts driven by COVID-19 are also threatening global food
security, with warnings that the number of people at risk of


acute hunger could rise from 135 million to 265 million by the
end of 2020. Further, COVID-19 may impact global stability,
with tensions escalating in volatile areas, and geopolitical
rivalries between countries predicted to worsen. Beyond
these devastating costs, the same forces driving an increased
risk of pandemics are also exacerbating the current planetary
emergency of nature loss and climate change, putting the
health of current and future generations at risk.
The COVID-19 crisis demonstrates that systemic
changes must be made to address the environmental
drivers of pandemics. To date, attempts to increase
the sustainability of our food systems by addressing
deforestation and land conversion, as well as to tackle the
sale and consumption of high-risk wildlife have made some
progress. However, many businesses have failed to meet their
commitments and some governments have either not put
in place, or failed to enforce, legislation. The pandemic has
shown that whether tackling environmental issues or health
crises, solutions must recognize the deep interconnectedness
of different systems. The crisis has demonstrated the power
of global responses to drive forward systemic changes,
with unprecedented shifts in the way that people behave -
from respecting social distancing to, in certain countries,
hundreds of thousands of people volunteering to support the
crisis response. Consequently, an unparalleled opportunity
now exists to work together to address the unsustainable
pressures that are being placed on the environment.
Now is the time for transformative action to protect
natural ecosystems in order to reduce the risk of
future pandemics and build towards nature positive,
carbon neutral, sustainable and just societies.
A collective response to the crisis must protect nature by:
*	 Governments commit to a New Deal for Nature & People
to deliver credible action that halts and starts to reverse
the loss of biodiversity, putting nature on a path to
recovery by 2030 for the benefit of all people and the
*	 Stopping illegal, unregulated and high-risk wildlife
trade and consumption, and enforcing hygienic and safe
practices across markets and restaurants
*	 Stopping land conversion, deforestation and
fragmentation across natural ecosystems, while
sustainably feeding a growing global population
*	 Building a new relationship between people and nature
through a sustainable and just economic recovery.


COVID-19 Report

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of COVID-19 Report

COVID-19 Report - 1
COVID-19 Report - 2
COVID-19 Report - Contents
COVID-19 Report - 4
COVID-19 Report - 5
COVID-19 Report - 6
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