Biodiversity experts argue that the recent pandemics are a direct consequence of human activity
The coronavirus pandemic will probably be followed by even more deadly and destructive epidemics, unless we put an end to their root cause—the endemic destruction of the natural world.
The warning comes from world-famed biodiversity experts, who argue that “the recent pandemics are a direct consequence of human activity, particularly of our global financial and economic systems, which seek economic growth at all costs. We have a small window of opportunity to overcome the challenges of this crisis, so as to avoid sawing the seeds of future ones".
Professors Josef Settele, Sandra Diaz and Eduardo Brondizio coordinated the largest health assessment project ever conducted, whose findings were made public in 2019 by Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Their conclusion is that human society is in danger because of the accelerated decline of Terra’s natural life support systems.
In an article published recently together with Peter Daszak, Ph.D, who is working on the next health assessment, they warn that “Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled agricultural expansion, intensive farming, mining and the exploitation of wild species have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases."
Researchers say the economic recovery packages in the trillions of US dollars, made available by governments, must be used to strengthen and enforce environment protection and that a global, unified, ‘One Health’ approach is required. Because "Human health is inextricably linked to the health of wild animals, the health of domestic animals and the health of the environment. It is, in fact, one health".
“The coronavirus crisis showed us how vulnerable we are and how important it is to recover the balance between human activity and nature, the executive vice-president for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans says in his turn.
In May, the European Commission adopted 2 new strategies, one focusing on biodiversity and the other on the food system. The new biodiversity strategy stipulates, among other things, that by 2030, 30% of Europe’s land and sea will be turned into efficiently managed protected areas, and at least 10% of the utilised agriculture land will include diverse landscapes such as hedges, trees and ponds that enhance carbon sequestration, prevent soil erosion and water depletion.
Adopted amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the strategy is a central element of the EU’s recovery plan, essential to preventing future epidemics and strengthening resilience to possible epidemics, Frans Timmermans explains.
Another strategy adopted by the Commission, “Farm to Fork”, provides for a 50% cut in the use of pesticides, a minimum 20% reduction in the use of fertilisers, a 50% reduction of sales of antimicrobials used in animal farms and fisheries, as well as for 25% of the agriculture land to be farmed organically.
The strategy targets a new, better balance between nature, food systems and biodiversity, to protect the health and welfare of our citizens and at the same time to increase the Union’s competitiveness and resilience, Frans Timmermans also says.
The 2 strategies reinforce each other, bringing together nature, farmers, enterprises and consumers to create a sustainable and competitive future. According to Brussels, under the European Green Deal, the EU launches ambitious actions and commitments to fight the decline of biodiversity in Europe and worldwide and to turn our food systems into global benchmarks for competitive sustainability, the protection of human and planetary health, as well as for the subsistence means of all stakeholders in the food value chain.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)