The UN Environment Programme has cautioned against looking at the slowdown of green houses gases due to coronavirus lockdown as a boon for the environment but called for a systemic shift to a more sustainable economy for both the planet and the people.
UN Environment Programme Chief Inger Andersen stated that coronavirius has already caused severe hardship to the people. Life was brought to a halt, she said. The outbreak would have lasting and devastating economic and social consequences, the Chief added.
She pointed out that a “war-time” plan in times of human crisis” was needed as stated by the UN Secretary General. Noting that Coronavirus was by no means a silver lining for the environment, Anderson said the signals of environment and their meaning for future and well being should be understood to the fullest.
She also mentioned that the coronavirus pandemic will result in an increased amount of medical and hazardous waste. The UN Environment chief pointed out that a change should come in the habit of production as well as consumption for ensuring a cleaner and greener surrounding. She noted that only long term shifts would change the trajectory of Carbon Dioxide levels. As such, she maintained that when economic stimulus packages of infrastructure are designed, it should be bundled up with packages of smart buildings, renewable energy investments and green public transport.
With respect to disease, the UN Environment chief said that the challenge ahead was to trace the place of the disease as the health of the planet played an important role in the spread of zoonotic diseases. Human beings get into closer contact with wildlife as encroachment of the fragile ecosystem increased, she said. Adding to this is illegal wildlife trade that lead to such diseases. She pointed out that 75 per cent of the diseases are zoonotic.
In the message, the UN Environment Chief said that human activity has altered about 75 percent of the planet’s surface. However, she said that nature was critical for human beings.
She stressed that the “wild must be kept wild. Anderson said that it was time to restore the forests. She also said that it was time to stop deforestation and invest more in the management of protected areas. There was also an urgent need to overcome illegal wildlife trade.
The Chief said that that human health can be managed better if nature is managed in a better way.