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
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.
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.