“Wildlife Conservation 20” message to G20: Invest in nature or face biodiversity collapse and further pandemics
Cambridge, UK, 20th November 2020—TRAFFIC today joined 20 leading conservation groups—the Wildlife Conservation 20—in issuing an unprecedented joint declaration to the G20 calling for urgent action to invest in nature to protect biodiversity and reduce the risk of future pandemics. Leaders of the world’s 20 major economies, the so-called G20, gathering this weekend have an unparalleled opportunity to build into COVID-19 economic recovery long-lasting action to conserve planetary health and reset human interactions with nature.
While the exact source of the virus remains uncertain, scientists agree that just like HIV, Ebola, SARS, Bird Flu, and MERS, SARS-COV2 is zoonotic: it jumped from animals to people, likely as a result of our increasing interaction with wildlife.
The resulting COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed 1.3 million people to date and affected hundreds of millions more, stands as one of the starkest and most urgent warnings yet that our current relationship with nature is unsustainable.
Investment in nature—including ending deforestation, controlling the wildlife trade, and enhancing livelihoods of people living in or depending on natural landscapes—is not a luxury to consider alongside pandemic recovery, the Wildlife Conservation 20 (WC20) said. Protecting biodiversity is perhaps the most important component of government recovery plans that will significantly reduce the risk of future pandemics and avoid similar or greater human, economic, and environmental harm.
The cost of these investments is a fraction of the estimated USD26 trillion in economic damage COVID-19 has already caused. By one recent estimate, USD700 billion a year would reverse the decline in biodiversity by 2030. That’s about one-fortieth the cost of the economic fallout from the current pandemic. A significant proportion of this investment could come from redirecting existing harmful financing, for example in subsidies that encourage deforestation and environmental destruction. Investing in planetary health drives green growth and green jobs, and takes us a long way towards tackling the effects of climate change and meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate.
With lives and livelihoods adversely affected by COVID-19 across the globe, there is public consensus and support as never before for governments to act now to protect and re-establish a healthier relationship with nature.
In their joint statement, the WC20 said: “COVID-19 has been a wake up call to everyone on this planet. Now is the time to value and invest in nature by developing sustainable nature-based economic stimulus packages that embrace a One Health approach and address long-term planetary health, food security, poverty alleviation, climate change, and biodiversity loss and work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“That is why the WC20 calls on the G20 nations to implement greater investment in addressing this critical present imbalance with nature. Otherwise, the natural world, on which we all rely, will not be safeguarded for the long-term well-being and security of current and future human generations, and for all life on earth.”
Ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit on 21st and 22nd November, Space for Giants and ESI Media on 19th November hosted a high-level virtual summit of CEOs and senior executives from the WC20 to agree a joint declaration identifying priority actions for world leaders.
TRAFFIC is actively building partnerships with expertise across the health sectors and with government representatives to help formulate new policies and guidelines to reduce the risk of future pandemics. Those with whom we have been liaising include: the African Union Commission, the Pan African Veterinary Center of the African Union, and the FAO Regional Office for Africa, Germany's Federal Minister of the Environment, Germany's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, the African Development Bank, the Ministry of the Environment of Cote d'Ivoire, the UN Environment Programme, and the South African Minister for Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.
The Wildlife Conservation 20 Declaration can be downloaded here.
About Wildlife Conservation 20
The Wildlife Conservation 20, or WC20, unites 20 of the most prominent conservation non-governmental organisations at the forefront of protecting wildlife and ecosystems.
The WC20 represents the voice of this conservation community and comprises:
African Parks, African Wildlife Foundation, BirdLife International, Born Free Foundation, Conservation International, Education for Nature Vietnam, Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime, Environment Investigation Agency, Fauna & Flora International, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Freeland, Jane Goodall Institute, Paradise Foundation International, Space for Giants, The Nature Conservancy, TRAFFIC, WildAid, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF, ZSL (Zoological Society of London).