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Independent delivers plea to G20: Protect Habitats & Prevent another Pandemic

The Independent has secured what it describes as a landmark agreement with 20 of the world’s leading wildlife organisations on the urgent actions needed to avert another pandemic.

Independent delivers plea to G20: Protect Habitats & Prevent another Pandemic
Oliver Poole: “We must act together and act quickly if we are to protect our planet and prevent more pandemics in the future.” Photograph: Nadiya Ploschenko on Unsplash.

The declaration, which was brokered as part of the news brand’s Stop The Illegal Wildlife Trade campaign, was delivered to G20 leaders as they joined their annual summit in Riyadh. It told them that that they have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to capitalise on public demand to invest in nature to protect people and planet.

The Wildlife Conservation 20, or WC20, includes the World Wildlife Fund, Zoological Society of London, the African Wildlife Foundation, the Paradise Foundation, Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International and the Jane Goodall Institute.

It is the first time that conservation leaders have come together in such large numbers to present a single, united request directed at the world’s leading 20 economic nations, says The Independent.

The signed declaration, which marks the end of the first phase of the Independent’s Stop the Illegal Wildlife Trade Campaign, was made following three days of discussions hosted by The Independent and its campaign partner, the international conservation charity Space for Giants.

The final text was agreed when leaders of all 20 charities joined a final virtual session Thursday 19th November. As well as being delivered to the G20, the declaration has been delivered to 10 Downing Street and the White House, as well as to all the London embassies of the G20 nations.

The group told the G20 leaders in a statement: “COVID-19 has been a wake up call to everyone on this planet. Now is the time to value and invest in nature by developing sustainable nature-based economic stimulus packages that embrace a One Health approach and address long-term planetary health, food security, poverty alleviation, climate change, and biodiversity loss and work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“That is why the WC20 calls on the G20 nations to implement greater investment in addressing this critical present imbalance with nature. Otherwise, the natural world, on which we all rely, will not be safeguarded for the long-term well-being and security of current and future human generations, and for all life on earth.”

The group’s five key recommendations to G20 leaders include the need to strengthen and implement existing laws while inking new ones to protect wildlife and habitats, ramping up law enforcement to fight wildlife trafficking, safeguarding natural ecosystems with investment, supporting local communities, and tackling demand for wildlife products.

The declaration highlights the cost of these investments which is a fraction of the estimated £20 trillion in economic damage COVID-19 has already caused. By one recent estimate, £525 billion a year would reverse the decline in biodiversity by 2030, roughly one-fortieth the cost of the economic fallout from the current pandemic.

It said that protecting biodiversity was the most important component of government recovery plans that would significantly reduce the risk of future pandemics and avoid similar or greater human, economic, and environmental harm.

Oliver Poole from The Independent commented: “This declaration marks a critical moment in time when action has to be taken. We must act together and act quickly if we are to protect our planet and prevent more pandemics in the future. Protecting biodiversity should be at the very centre of government plans to reduce the threat of future pandemics and avoid similar human, economic and environmental harm.”

Dr. Max Graham, CEO of Space for Giants, our campaign’s charity partner, said: “Covid-19 is a terrible reminder of what can happen if we don’t respect nature, and there are many other signs, in loss of species, in deforestation, in pollution.

“This really is a watershed moment when public opinion is massively supportive of the G20 governments taking the measures needed to protect wildlife and the natural world. They can also act and know that it’s cheaper to invest in nature to reduce the risk of pandemics, than to deal with the awful economic fallout they cause.”