Protect environment, prevent pandemics: UN

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Protect environment, prevent pandemics: UN

UNITED NATIONS,(APP):The United Nations has drawn links between the health of the planet, and human health on the World Environment Day, while highlighting the importance of protecting biodiversity, the system that supports life.

“At least 70 per cent of emerging infectious diseases” such as coronavirus, are crossing from the wild, to people, and “transformative actions are urgently required to protect environment and human rights,"  David Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said on this year’s Day, which is being celebrated Friday.

Boyd added that countries should take urgent action to protect the environment and stop climate disruption, biodiversity loss, toxic pollution and diseases that jump from animals to humans.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his message that “nature is sending us a clear message. We are harming the natural world, to our own detriment.”

He noted that habitat degradation and biodiversity loss were accelerating, “climate disruption is getting worse…To care for humanity, we must care for nature.”

This year’s Day inevitably references the global COVID-19 health crisis, noting that, with the population doubling over the past 50 years, and the global economy growing fourfold over the same period, the delicate balance of nature has been disrupted, creating ideal conditions for pathogens, such as COVID-19, to spread.

As countries open up, and governments approve stimulus packages to support job creation, poverty reduction, development and economic growth, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), is urging them to “build back better”.

This involves capturing opportunities for green investment — such as renewable energy, smart housing, green public procurement, and public transport — guided by the principles and standards of sustainable production and consumption.

A failure to do so, warns UNEP, and an attempted return to business as usual, risks seeing inequalities rising even further, and a worsening of the degradation of the planet, at a time when one million animal and plant species are on the brink of extinction.