Relationship between nature, people is damaged and poses danger, UN leaders say

OTTAWA — The heads of the United Nations office behind a global conference on biodiversity loss next month in Montreal say the more we destroy nature, the higher the risk of pandemics like COVID-19.

They say the meeting in December is a critical moment that should raise biodiversity loss to the same level of concern the world has about climate change.

Elizabeth Mrema, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, says eroding habitats and destruction of wildlife are making climate change worse.

David Cooper, the convention's deputy executive secretary, says biodiversity loss is also raising the risk of future pandemics.

Studies have shown that as human development encroaches on wildlife habitats it increases the interactions between people and animals, in turn raising the risk more animal-borne viruses will make the jump to humans.

The two-week meeting is aimed at making a plan among all countries to slow the rate of biodiversity loss with goals to protect almost one-third of the world's land from development before the end of the decade.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press