Creation of ideal conditions for pathogens

Human actions, including deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats, intensified agriculture and acceleration of climate change have pushed nature beyond its limits.

The food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature. For instance, each year, marine plants produce more than a half of our atmosphere’s oxygen and a mature tree cleans our air, absorbing 22 kilos of carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen in exchange.

Biodiversity describes the variety of life on Earth. It encompasses the 8 million species on the planet – from plants and animals to fungi and bacteria; the ecosystem that house them like Oceans, forests, mountains environment and coral reefs. Biodiversity may be seen as an intricate web in which each part is independent. When one component is changed – or removed – the entire system is affected and this can produce positive or negative consequences.

Biodiversity is the foundation that supports all life on land and below water. It affects every aspects of human health providing clean air and water, nutritious food, scientific understanding and medicine sources, natural disease resistance and climate change mitigation. Despite all our technological advances, we are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystem for our water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy.

Biodiversity ensure that we have fertile soil as well as a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables to eat. It is the foundation of most of our industries and livelihoods and helps regulate climate through carbon storage and regulating rainfall. It also filters air and water and mitigates the impact of natural disasters such as landslides and costal storms. On land, most important ecosystem and biodiversity refuges on forests which are home to most of Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity: 80 per cent of amphibian species; 75 per cent bird species and 68 per cent of mammal species according to “The State of the World’s Forest”.

Nature is in crisis now. We are losing species at a rate 1,000 times greater than any other time in recorded human history and million species face extinction. Despite all the benefits that our nature gives us, we still mistreat it. Human actions, including deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats, intensified agriculture and acceleration of climate change have pushed nature beyond its limits.

In the last 50 years, the human population has doubled: the global economy has almost quadrupled and global trade has increased by about ten times. It would take 1.6 Earths to meet the demands that humans make of nature each year. If we continues on this path, biodiversity loss will have severe implications for humanity, including the collapse of food and health systems.

The emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the fact that when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. By upsetting the delicate balance of nature, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens – including coronavirus to spread. Today it is estimated that globally about one billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur every year from diseases caused by coronaviruses and about 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic, meaning that they are transmitted to people by animals which is the message send by nature.

Nature response to some of the most pressing challenges faced by humans today. Nature provides us oxygen, purifies the water we drink, ensures fertile soil and produce the variety of foods we require to stay healthy and resist disease. It enables medical researchers to understand human physiology and offers substances for developing medicines. It is the foundation of most industries and livelihoods. It even helps mitigate the impact of climate change by storing carbon and regulating local rainfall. Life on earth would not be possible without nature’s services. It is our greatest common good.

Following the decision taken by UN Members States in the Convention on Biological diversity, UNEP and its partners are launching the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a global initiative to resolve the relationship between human and nature. UNEP is also working with world leaders to develop a new and ambitious post- 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to realize a 2050 vision of living in Harmony with Nature. Living in harmony with nature can only be achieved if we reverse negative impact and biodiversity loss and pursue full implementation of 2030 agenda for sustainable Development. World Environment Day celebration will help build mature and unite global community in actions for positive change. World Environment Day is the most renowned day for environmental action. Since 1974, it has been celebrated every year on 5th June, engaging, governments, business, celebrities and citizens to focus their efforts on a pressing environmental issue. Since its beginning in 1974, World Environment Day has developed into a global platform for raising awareness and taking action on urgent issues from marine pollution and global warming to sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. Millions of people have taken part over the years, helping drive change in our consumption habits as well as in national and international environmental policy. World Environment Day embraces small and less- developed nations while tackling even bigger topics from sustainable consumption to the illegal wildlife trade.

The theme for 2020 World Environment Day was “BIODIVERSITY” a concern that is both urgent and existential. Recent bushfires in Brazil, the United States and Australia to locust infestation across East-Africa and now a global disease pandemic- demonstrate the independence of human and the webs of life in which they exist. But do we really know its importance? May be our diversity trivial will help. Above all, World Environment Day offers a global platform for inspiring positive change. It recognizes that global change requires a global communities. It pushes for individuals to think about the way they consume: for business to develop greener models; for farmers and manufactures to produce more sustainably; for government to safeguard wild spaces; for educators to inspire students to live in harmony with the Earth; and for youth to become fierce gatekeepers of a green future. It requires all of us. 

 

First Published:June 10, 2020, 4:21 p.m.