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Making Peace with Nature

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Ahead of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen will officially launch a new report, Making Peace with Nature, during an online press briefing.

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Making Peace With Nature Message – Inger Andersen
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Ahead of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, and the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, are officially launching a new report, untitled “Making Peace with Nature” (UNEP). The new report from UNEP “Making Peace With Nature,” lays out the gravity of Earth’s triple environmental emergencies – climate, biodiversity loss and pollution – through a unique synthesis of the findings and science from major global assessments. Launched ahead of the Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (#UNEA5​), it flags the interlinkages between our environmental and development challenges and describes the roles of all parts of society in the transformations needed for a sustainable future.

Excerpt: Avoiding pandemics and the transition to a sustainable world

The COVID-19 pandemic, which was still unfolding at the time of the completion of this report, illustrates why the transformation to a sustainable future needs to be accelerated. Science plays a pivotal role in informing policies that can drive this transformation, and a key area that needs to be better understood is the interaction between society and nature.

The emergence of new infectious diseases in humans, animals and plants can be exacerbated by human activi- ties. Activities that contribute to ecological degradation can increase the risk of zoonotic-origin disease from wildlife through increased human contact with patho- gens and changes in pathogen ecology. These activities include climate change, land-use change and fragmenta- tion, agricultural intensification, deforestation, and legal and illegal commercial wildlife trade. In particular, the creation of new habitat edges at the interfaces between humans and wildlife increases the risk of pathogens spilling over from their wildlife hosts into human popula- tions and their livestock.

A One Health approach recognizes how human, animal, plant and environmental health are intrinsically con- nected and profoundly influenced by human activities. COVID-19 has delivered a shock to humanity that could spark a paradigm shift towards a healthier and more sustainable future. Governments around the world are investing trillions of US dollars to catalyse economic recovery. This is an opportunity to build back better by ensuring that the social and economic measures put in place by countries to emerge from the crisis aim at moving away from unsustainable practices and accelerating the transformation towards the implementation of all the SDGs.

SDG 17 calls for “Partnerships for the Goals,” to ensure that all SDGs are implemented with science-based decision-making, sound governance and a sense of responsibility of individuals. To achieve transformation, society must overcome sectoral silos, entrenched power, and economic interests, eliminate harmful drivers and perverse incentives, while promoting resilience and adaptation. There is a need for cooperative, multilateral and engaged democratic action at all levels of society, in every country, and at the international level. As part of this effort, promoting and operationalizing the One Health approach is paramount to secure human health in this changed world, including by preventing and improving the response to future pandemics. COVID-19 has shown the exorbitant cost of inaction and provides a critical learning opportunity. Transformative change towards preventing pandemics needs to occur now. Preparedness, including via policies for reducing risks of disease emergence such as from land use and wildlife trade, closing of critical knowledge gaps, and engaging all sectors of society, is essential.


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