While saving human lives and re-booting the economy are two utmost priorities for governments to consider when developing their post-Covid-19 Stimulus Package, they must not forget Nature.
After all, the root cause of those zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19 is the destruction of wildlife habitats, a fact endorsed by most of the scientific community. Meaning, our human activity facilitated the virus' jump from wildlife to us. And, as we contemplate the post-pandemic world to come, the voices of scientists need to be heard far and wide.
"The process that leads a microbe, such as a virus, from a population of vertebrates such as bats to humans is complex, but driven by people," says Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the panel of UN experts on biodiversity.
"The rate of global change in nature during the past 50 years is unprecedented in human history, and the most important direct driver of change in nature is land use change," she adds. This message was reinforced recently by four renowned IPBES-affiliated experts: Josef Settele, Sandra Díaz, Eduardo Brondizio and Peter Daszak.
In an eloquent commentary, they suggested that post Covid-19 stimulus measures "must save lives, protect livelihoods, and safeguard Nature to reduce the risk of future pandemics."
"There is a single species that is responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic — us. We have a small window of opportunity, in overcoming the challenges of the current crisis, to avoid sowing the seeds of future ones," they said.
They argued that government stimulus plans needed to include sustainable and nature-positive initiatives.
"It may be politically expedient at this time to relax environmental standards and to prop up industries such as intensive agriculture, long-distance transportation such as the airlines, and fossil-fuel-dependent energy sectors, but doing so without requiring urgent and fundamental change, essentially subsidizes the emergence of future pandemics."