Mending the broken relationship with nature: tackling the nexus between biodiversity, ecosystems, health and climate change after COVID-19 – World


This policy brief highlights how human health is directly linked to the state of biodiversity and climate change in the Asia-Pacific region. Improving human health and mitigating future health disasters requires addressing these causal factors simultaneously in an integrated manner.

The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) coronavirus is a zoonotic disease, transmitted from animals to humans. Zoonotic diseases are caused by many environmental factors that reinforce the interface between wild animals, domestic animals and humans. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the region’s environmental health was already under enormous pressure. The COVID-19 pandemic is therefore a call to urgently restore and reconnect a sustainable relationship between nature and human societies.

This raises the following questions:

  • What are the environmental issues that threaten human health and how are the environment and human health related?
  • What approaches can be used to understand these interactions?
  • What are the concrete political actions that can be implemented to repair the broken relationship between human societies and the environment and to face, at the same time, the global crises of biodiversity, climate and health?

Generating knowledge is essential to bring about change that emphasizes moving away from current development trajectories characterized by biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, unsustainable production and consumption patterns, pollution and climate change. A framework to address the link between the health of the natural world and human health within the limits of what nature can provide, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is imperative.

A combination of institutional weaknesses, structural economic weaknesses and behavioral weaknesses in the way we manage our environment has led to the deterioration of environmental health in the region and is linked to environmental drivers of zoonoses:

  • Institutional weaknesses reflect weak governance and institutional capacity. They include a lack of political commitment, despite available scientific evidence, to address critical environmental issues such as the biodiversity and climate crises, and siled approaches to environmental and human health management.
  • Structural weaknesses resulting from the prevalence of an unsustainable economic paradigm include land use change, unsustainable urbanization, all types of pollution, and problems of environmental consideration by economic sectors, financial and commercial.
  • Behavioral weaknesses are linked to unsustainable lifestyles and consumption patterns. They encompass illegal wildlife hunting, trade and increased international exports of live animals, unsustainable agri-food systems and the unsustainable impacts of population growth.

With a framework addressing these linkages, specific institutional, economic, structural and behavioral change solutions are offered to ensure environmental health and human health are protected, and offer insights into how to simultaneously address the factors responsible for zoonoses. in an integrated way, focusing on the link between biodiversity, ecosystems, human health and climate change.

Key institutional solutions include adopting a regional agenda that would bring together all relevant actors, strengthen environmental laws and regulations and their enforcement, and improve monitoring capacity, with a focus on addressing biodiversity crises. and climate. Structural economic solutions examine how to make land management and urbanization more sustainable, reduce and manage pollution appropriately, and how putting nature at the heart of the economic paradigm can improve human and environmental health. Finally, behavior change solutions focus on better management of wildlife and wildlife trade, promoting sustainable agri-food systems and overall sustainable consumption and production.