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Six ways conserving and sustainably using nature could prevent future pandemics

05 May 2020
Bolok  Malysia

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the need to rebalance the relationship between people and nature. 

As those on the frontline continue to tackle the immediate crisis, it is crucial that we enhance our understanding of how and why pandemics happen, and what we can do to reduce these risks in the future. 

75% of all emerging infectious diseases are transferred to people from wildlife – that is, they are zoonotic. This is thought to include Covid-19, as well as other diseases such as Ebola and bird flu.  

Zoonotic diseases spill over into the human population when people come into contact with affected wildlife. These diseases originate in animals, but they are spread to people by practices that disrupt the balance of nature and raise the risk of disease transmission.

Further research into zoonotic disease and ecosystem-health linkages is urgently needed. However, it is already clear a healthy population relies on a healthy planet.

Here are six ways sustainable management of the world's ecosystems might help to reduce the risk of diseases like Covid-19 emerging in the future: 

The Covid-19 outbreak continues to cause devastating and long-term human, social, and economic harm worldwide. Rebuilding after the pandemic will be a collective challenge. Global plans for building back better after Covid-19 will need to take on board the ways in which human and agricultural health relies on ecosystem health, through the so-called 'One Health' approach.

The next decade is a crucial window for changing course and rebalancing the relationship between people and nature. Protecting and promoting the world’s ecosystems and all their biodiversity will be key to building a better future.