The Covid pandemic has been challenging and often times devastating for many people. As the world is recovering from this unprecedented crisis it is clear the going back to business as usual is not an option. To minimize the risk of a new pandemic we have to stop destroying nature and start working towards a sustainable economy that preserves our natural resources.
All evidence suggests that COVID-19, a zoonotic disease, jumped from wildlife to humans. That happens because of the irresponsible way we interact with nature. Ecosystems that were closed are being damaged by expansion and the intensification of agriculture and animal production, land use change, and the consumption of high-risk wildlife, such as monkeys, bats and armadillos.
Scientists, thought leaders and global institutions have been raising the alarm over the risk of a global pandemic as acute threat to human life. But there is also a solution, especially now. As the world recovers from the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to reshape our economies and societies in a more sustainable way.
The Covid-19 crisis has shown that we need a better understanding of how people and nature interact. The amazing, still largely intact nature of Suriname and Guyana allows us to build forward better. If there is any place where choices can be made for a sustainable future where people live in harmony with nature, it is in the Guianas.
The Covid-19 pandemic has helped Guyana and Suriname to think ahead on what sort of economic development model is best, especially because the expected revenues from the emerging oil and gas industry can be used for building a truly sustainable economy. The countries have a chance to build forward better, learning from the mistakes of others even as we retool.
In the report ‘COVID 19: urgent call to protect people and nature’ governments around the world are called upon to halt both high risk wildlife trade and unregulated deforestation, and to preserve natural habitats.
This applies also to the Guianas. A recent study shows that the illegal wildlife trade in jaguar parts for traditional medicines in Asia is increasing dramatically. Another study points out that the forests of the Guiana Shield are most affected by poorly regulated gold mining, which has increased exponentially since the early 2000's.
WWF also advocates for a New Deal for Nature and People that sets nature on the path to recovery by 2030 and safeguards human health and livelihoods in the long-term.