The COVID-19 pandemic reaffirms the urgency to protect global biodiversity, said Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Elizabeth Maruma Mrema on Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Elizabeth expressed her hope that the COVID-19 pandemic could serve as a wake-up call for people to fix deteriorating relations with nature.
“Biodiversity loss presents a fundamental risk to the healthy and stable ecosystems that sustain all aspects of our societies,” she said, ahead of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD) which falls on Friday.
Under theme of “Our solutions are in nature,” this year’s IBD highlights that biodiversity remains the answer to a number of sustainable development challenges, such as climate change and food security.
“We must also address the underlying drivers of disease emergence, many of which also overlap with drivers of biodiversity loss,” she said.
“We need to better manage ecosystems to reduce the risks of infectious diseases, including zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, for example by avoiding ecosystem degradation, including deforestation, intensification of agriculture and livestock, human encroachment on natural habitats, resource extraction, prevention of invasive alien species, and limit or control human-wildlife contact,” Mrema said.
Mrema mentioned that linkages between biodiversity and human health have offered a broad range of opportunities for jointly protecting health and biodiversity, and for advancing human wellbeing.
“Going forward, we need an integrated, whole of government, whole of society approach to improve the way we manage the natural environment and interactions with human society,” said the executive secretary.
“We need what is known as a ‘One Health’ approach, where we are concerned with the health, or people, wild and domesticated animals, and the wider environment altogether,” she added.
The IDB was designed by the United Nations to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.