World Environment Day 2020 biodiversity theme links COVID-19 to human action

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The global community is set to Friday commemorate 2020 World Environment Day (WED), the major day for global environmental action focused on encouraging awareness and action, aimed at protecting the environment on the theme: “Biodiversity” – a concern that has been described as both urgent and existential!

 

 

“As the global population approaches 10 billion, we need to better understand the web of life in which we live and appreciate that it functions as a whole system. It is time to reimagine our relationship with nature and put nature at the heart of our decision-making”, said a press statement by UN Environment Programme (UNEP) about WED 2020.

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Since its creation in 1974, WED has remained the major campaign for environmental issues, from marine pollution, human overgrowth, to raising awareness about global warming, sustainable consumption, wild life crime and recently, zoonotic diseases. This year’s commemoration is to be hosted by Colombia in partnership with Germany.

In their joint statement, Colombia’s Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development Ricardo Lozano, Germany’s Secretary of State for the Climate Jochen Flasbarth, and Executive Director of UNEP Inger Andersen noted, “With one million species of plants and animals facing extinction, there has never been a more critical time to focus on the problem of biodiversity. The year 2020 is a critical year for nations’ commitments to preserving and restoring biodiversity.”

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Biodiversity is the foundation supporting all life on land and below water, including human life; the emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the fact that when humans destroy biodiversity, they destroy the system that supports human life. Sadly, human actions, including deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats, intensified agriculture, and acceleration of climate change, have upset the delicate balance of nature, altering the system that would naturally protect human life and creating conditions that allow particular diseases such as coronaviruses to spread.

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Therefore, COVID-19 has but provided humanity an opportunity to both revisit its relationship with nature and rebuild a more environmentally responsible world. Addressing the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as coronavirus requires addressing its root cause – which lies on the impact of human activities.

 

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