June 5 marks World Environment Day and this year’s day references the global Covid-19 health crisis, Source: Unsplash

Protect environment, prevent pandemics, says UN

“nature is sending us a clear message. We are harming the natural world, to our own detriment.”

DURBAN – “At least 70 percent of emerging infectious diseases such as Covid-19 are crossing from the wild to people and transformative actions are urgently required to protect the environment and human rights,” this is according to David Boyd, an independent UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment.

June 5 marks World Environment Day and this year’s celebrations referenced the global Covid-19 health crisis, noting that, with the population doubling over the past 50 years, and the global economy growing fourfold over the same period, the delicate balance of nature has been disrupted, creating ideal conditions for pathogens such as Covid-19 to spread.

Boyd said countries should take urgent action to protect the environment and stop climate disruption, biodiversity loss, toxic pollution and diseases that jump from animals to humans.

UN chief António Guterres in his message said; “nature is sending us a clear message. We are harming the natural world, to our own detriment.”

Guterres noted that habitat degradation and biodiversity loss were accelerating, climate disruption is getting worse. To care for humanity, we must care for nature, he said.

World Environment Day was launched in 1974; the 2020 edition, which has the tagline “Time for Nature”, is being hosted by Colombia, which is organizing several events live-streamed, which can be accessed on social media. The theme is biodiversity protection, at a time when one million animal and plant species are believed to be on the brink of extinction.

As countries open up and governments approve stimulus packages to support job creation, poverty reduction, development and economic growth, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is urging them to “build back better”.

A failure to do so, warns UNEP, and an attempted return to business as usual, risks seeing inequalities rising even further, and a worsening of the degradation of the planet, at a time when one million animal and plant species are on the brink of extinction. 

 

 

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