from The Internationalist and International Institutions and Global Governance Program

To Prevent Future Pandemics, Start by Protecting Nature

An Indigenous girl from the Parintintin tribe sits on a cut tree trunk in Traira village near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil, on August 16, 2019.
An Indigenous girl from the Parintintin tribe sits on a cut tree trunk in Traira village near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil, on August 16, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

We have entered a new era of infectious disease. The path to global health security begins with protecting nature.

Originally published at World Politics Review

May 10, 2021 10:40 am (EST)

An Indigenous girl from the Parintintin tribe sits on a cut tree trunk in Traira village near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil, on August 16, 2019.
An Indigenous girl from the Parintintin tribe sits on a cut tree trunk in Traira village near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil, on August 16, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
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In my weekly column for World Politics ReviewI write about three of the most important factors behind the rise in zoonoses and four priorities for multilateral cooperation grounded in a “One Health” approach.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted humanity’s growing vulnerability to emerging infectious diseases and underscored the need to reduce our collective exposure to these pathogens. Not surprisingly, then, the past year has seen a torrent of reports on pandemic preparedness, including one I co-authored for the Council on Foreign Relations. Most of these focus on controlling outbreaks after they start, rather than averting them in the first place. Moving from reaction to prevention requires identifying and mitigating the main drivers of new infectious diseases. These drivers are almost entirely anthropogenic and are the same forces responsible for precipitous declines in global biodiversity. The path to global health security, in other words, begins with protecting nature.

More on:

Global Governance

Climate Change

Infectious Diseases

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Food and Water Security

We have entered a new era of infectious disease. In the past several decades, more than 400 new pathogens have emerged in humans. About 75 percent of these are zoonoses, or diseases that originated in wild animals before jumping to people, often through an intermediate host. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and which originated in bats, is only the latest example, following on the heels of HIV/AIDS, Ebola, SARS, Nipah, West Nile, Zika, MERS, H5N1, H1N1 and many others. Economists estimate the average annual global cost of emerging zoonotic disease at more than $1 trillion, with periodic severe pandemics like COVID-19—for which projections of lost economic growth through 2025 go as high as $28 trillion—capable of inflicting much more damage.

Read the full World Politics Review article here

More on:

Global Governance

Climate Change

Infectious Diseases

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Food and Water Security

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