BirdLife International, along with 20 of the world’s leading conservation organizations, has urged the G20 to take urgent action to invest in nature to protect biodiversity and thereby reduce the risk of future pandemics.
World leaders gathering in Riyadh this weekend will have a unique opportunity to step into the specifications of the COVID-19 recovery plans to preserve the health of the planets and reset human interactions with nature.
Conservation investment costs are a fraction of the estimated $ 26 trillion economic damage that COVID-19 has already caused. An estimated $ 700 billion per year investment would reverse the decline in biodiversity by 2030. That’s about one-fortieth the cost of the economic aftermath of the current pandemic.
A significant portion of this investment could come from diverting existing harmful funding, for example into subsidies that encourage deforestation and environmental degradation.
While the exact source of the virus remains uncertain, scientists agree that just like HIV, Ebola, SARS, avian flu, and MERS, COVID-19 is zoonotic: it jumped from animals to people, likely due to our increasing interaction with and encroachment on the wild living animals and their habitats.
Fork-tailed wood nymph, Amazonia Lodge, Peru, Copyright Miguel Lezama, from the Surfbirds Galleries
The pandemic, which to date has killed 1.3 million people and affected hundreds more millions, is considered one of the worst and most urgent warnings that our current relationship with nature is unsustainable. The ongoing destruction of nature on our common planet can be significantly reduced with positive economic and environmental results.
Investing in nature – including ending deforestation, controlling the wildlife trade, and improving the livelihoods of people living in or dependent on natural landscapes – is not a luxury alongside pandemic recovery, according to WC20.
Protecting biodiversity is a fundamental part of government recovery plans, which will significantly reduce the risk of future pandemics and prevent similar or greater harm to people, the economy and the environment.
Investing in the health of the planets promotes green growth and jobs, and is essential to tackling the effects of climate change and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.
With the world’s livelihoods impacted by COVID-19, there is unprecedented public consensus and support around the world that governments act now to protect and restore healthier relationships with nature
This is the turning point that led BirdLife International to help found Wildlife Conservation 20 (WC20) and bring together 20 of the most well-known conservation NGOs that are at the forefront of protecting wildlife and ecosystems.
Patricia Zurita, CEO of BirdLife International, said: “COVID-19 is a wake up call for everyone on this planet. The moment has now come when we must value nature conservation and invest in it by developing sustainable, nature-based stimulus packages. BirdLife believes that access to a healthy planet should be a universal human right and this urgent call complements our 1planet1right.org campaign to make it happen.
Otherwise, the natural world on which we all rely cannot protect us and ensure our current and long-term well-being. The investment of the remediation funds in nature not only protects our economies, but also our health. “
This November 21st and 22nd in Riyadh, when the G20 meets, they must take the lead to tackle this crisis. “
Ahead of the G20 Summit of Heads of State and Government on November 21 and 22 in Riyadh, Space for Giants and ESI Media hosted a high-level virtual summit of WC20 CEOs and senior executives on November 19 to agree a joint statement in set of priority actions for world leaders.
The full text of the statement is available at spaceforgiants.org/WC20.