Fifth Science-Policy Forum for Biodiversity and the Eighth International Conference on Sustainability Science

21 Apr 2021

Session 4 : Links between loss of biodiversity, climate change and zoonotic diseases

Main points discussed in the session:

•Reducing biodiversity loss and zoonotic disease need to consider the impact and adaptation of climate change

•Protected areas can stop the spread of zoonotic diseases

•Forest Restoration can decrease the transmission risk of zoonotic diseases

•However, depending on the way (landscape configuration) it is done, it can increase the risk of some diseases

• Investments in nature, including halting land use change, supporting restoration and making food systems nature positive, are key to preventing the next pandemic

•Mainstreaming biodiversity, climate change and health, requires being inclusive, integrative in policy-making and work on education based on good science.  Use nature based solutions and ecosystem approaches when implementing mainstreaming.

ogical Sciences (IUBS), France.

Event Reports and Videos:

Session 1: Part 1: Opening Session

Session 1: Part 2: Breakout Group1

Session 1: Part 2: Breakout Group2

Session 2

Session 3: Breakout Group 1

Session 3: Breakout Group 2

Session 4

Session 5

Event Website

Video : Session 4

Short Report

Emergence of novel zoonotic pathogens—human pathogens that originate in animals—are linked to biodiversity loss and climate change. Both of these issues are the focus of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). In this context, session 4 focused on how science can guide the global community to manage future pandemics, and zoonotic risk in general. Dr Zhibin Zhang, the President of the International Zoological Sciences (ISZS), set the stage with his review of the mechanisms that interactively link climate change, biodiversity loss and zoonotic risk; and how their impacts can be lessened with the use of science-based policy. One such mechanism that is known to be a key driver of the emergence of novel wildlife and zoonotic pathogens—such as the ongoing pandemic Covid-19 virus—is land use change. The impact of this mechanism in increasing zoonotic risk—specifically in the cases of Yellow fever and Hanta viruses in Brazil—were highlighted by Dr Paula Ribeiro Prist, an advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO). She concluded that forest restoration could be a major approach in reducing zoonotic disease risk, although exact outcomes may vary depending on viruses, hosts and scales. In the context of policy, Dr Doreen Robinson of United Nations Education Programme (UNEP), Nairobi, Kenya, identified three major challenges—the underrated role of livestock sector in pathogen emergence, lack of sufficient focus on environmental health and the underrepresentation of the indigenous knowledge systems in landscape management goals. In the face of these challenges, she recommended that the global food system will need to be transformed to be more environmental-friendly, more investment be made to understand the science underlying those challenges and that the time has come to move the needle from fixing ambitious targets periodically to implementing existing targets ambitiously.

All the science and policy recommendations of the first three speakers were put into the perspectives of the GBF goals by Dr Lily O. Rodriguez, who is the Director of Cordillera Azul (CIMA), a Peruvian biodiversity conservation non-profit organisation. She underlined the role of human behaviour—and its management—related to climate change, biodiversity loss and zoonotic risk. The session was chaired by Drs Cristina Romanelli, who is a scientist at World Health Organisation (WHO) specialising in biodiversity, climate change and health; and Nils Christian Stenseth, a professor at the University of Oslo, Norway and an ex-President of the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), France.


Event short report by By Shivani Krishna and Debapriyo Chakraborty.


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IUBS Working Group on Zoonotic Diseases

Information about IUBS Working Group on Zoonotic Diseases is available here.