UN Report on COVID-19 & the Biodiversity Crisis
Dear readers of the Species in Peril e-letter:
As the coronavirus pandemic continues its course and infections rise rapidly in many countries, including the United States, Brazil, and India, we share with you the news of a just-published report from the United Nations that connects the pandemic to the biodiversity crisis. But first, a small background.
As you may remember, in April, the Species in Peril project at UNM was launched with the first issue of the Species in Peril e-letter. The inaugural e-letter included an article “COVID-19 Lights Up Biological Annihilation” by Subhankar Banerjee with an original drawing Bats are not our enemies by laura c. carlson. It was one of the first articles that highlighted that the “root causes” of the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the escalating biodiversity crisis and urged us to “consider the current coronavirus pandemic as a manifestation of biological annihilation, a high-profile ambassador of sort.”
Four days later, on April 30, WWF published a 21-page report, “The Loss of Nature and Rise of Pandemics.” The report “illustrates the links between humanity’s impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity and the spread of certain diseases. While many of these links are not yet fully understood, it is clear that human and planetary health are closely connected. Today’s crisis creates an urgent need for an in-depth reflection on the relationship between human beings and nature, the risks associated with current economic development pathways, and how we can better protect ourselves in the future.”
Nearly ten weeks later, on July 6, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published an 82-page report, “Preventing the next pandemic – Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission.” In announcing the report, the UNEP states:
“In this time of crisis, thousands of papers and guidelines have already been published about COVID-19. Most of these consider the important questions of how to respond to the ongoing public health crisis, or how to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. This report takes a step back and considers the root causes of the emergence and spread of the novel coronavirus and other ‘zoonoses’—diseases that are transmitted between animals and humans. The report also offers a set of practical recommendations that can help policymakers prevent and respond to future disease outbreaks.”
You can also view online an interview Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh conducted with the lead author of the UNEP report, Delia Grace, on Democracy Now!
The next Species in Peril e-letter, which we plan to publish next month, will include details of the UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series with speakers and schedules.
For now, we are pleased to share that the opening webinar has been scheduled for September 14, in which United States Senator Tom Udall and Congresswoman Deb Haaland will speak live from Washington, DC., and share their vision and policy initiatives to protect 30% of land and 30% of the ocean within the territory of the United States as a significant measure to mitigate the biodiversity crisis. More on that event and the rest of the series will be included in the next e-letter, along with original articles and drawings. Stay tuned!
Wishing everyone good health,
Subhankar Banerjee, editor, Species in Peril
Banner Image: from “Preventing the Next Pandemic”, 2020, United Nations Environment Programme