This guidance note 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 require simultaneously addressing these causal factors in an integrated manner.
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19) is a zoonotic disease, transmitted from animals to humans. Zoonotic diseases are caused by many environmental factors that improve the interface between wild animals, pets and humans. Before 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 lasting relationship between nature and human societies.
This poses the following questions:
- What environmental issues pose threats to 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 at the same time face 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 degradation of environmental health in the region and is linked to the environmental drivers of zoonoses:
- Institutional weaknesses reflect weak governance and institutional capacities. They include a lack of political commitment, despite the scientific data available, to address critical environmental issues such as biodiversity and climate crises, and siled approaches to managing environmental and human health.
- Structural weaknesses, resulting from the prevalence of an unsustainable economic paradigm, include land use change, unsustainable urbanization, all types of pollution and issues of environmental awareness by sectors. economic, 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 agro-food systems and the unsustainable impacts of population growth.
With a framework addressing these linkages, specific institutional, structural, economic and behavioral change solutions are proposed to ensure that environmental health and human health are protected, and offer perspectives on how to simultaneously address the causal factors of zoonoses. in an integrated manner, focusing on the link between biodiversity, ecosystems, human health and climate change.
Key institutional solutions include the adoption of a regional program that would bring together all relevant actors, strengthen environmental laws and regulations and their enforcement, and improve monitoring capacity, with an emphasis on tackling environmental crises. biodiversity and climate. Structural Economic Solutions examine how to make land management and urbanization more sustainable, reduce and manage pollution appropriately, and how placing nature in the economic paradigm can improve human and environmental health. Finally, behavior change solutions focus on better management of wildlife and wildlife trade, promotion of sustainable agrifood systems, and overall sustainable consumption and production.