Blog 21.05.20

Why we must protect nature to prevent Covid 2.0

Credit: SophieB

Enlightened business gets together with environmental NGOs to lobby the international community to protect nature from relentless destruction.  The effort, expected to peak at a big UN nature summit in China, is derailed by a virus that has hopped from beast to humans largely because of our relentless exploitation of animals.

Ironic, or just plain tragic?

The UN summit, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), has been postponed from October 2020 to sometime hence. Business, organised by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and supported by organisations such as the WWF, was hoping to provide a unified call for the urgent, greater protection of nature. 

This makes a lot of sense, given that nature provides the support systems (air, water, fibre, food…) that keep people and businesses healthy.  Business has been slow to make the connection between its success and the bounties of the natural world, mainly because nature has kept on giving. 

But now it seems that nature has struck back with Covid-19.  Although it has given fair warning of its power with, among others, avian flu, Sars and Ebola – viruses suspected to have come from animals and originated in places where people conflict with creatures as they expand into nature.

Animals carry many viruses, most of which sit safely behind the species barrier. But scientists are concerned that as humans continue to expand into ever-shrinking animal habitats they will be exposed to more novel viruses of the Covid-19 complexity. Our Covid-19 horror could merely be the harbinger of more to come.  

“The health of people is intimately connected to the health of wildlife, the health of livestock and the health of the environment. It’s actually one health,” says Dr Peter Daszak, who is part of a team working with the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Maybe this truth, long ignored by the bulk of the business community, will be recognised because of the shock of Covid-19.  If so, a loud and unified business-for-nature voice should be heard when the UN finally meets to discuss how the world can ensure the future of nature.

Here’s hoping those left in the C-suite will listen, understand and act.

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