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Conservationists push for a greener agenda

/ 04:10 AM April 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The virulent spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) should be a wake-up call for the government and the public to urgently address environmental degradation to avert future pandemics, conservationists say.

In time for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day today, some 300 scientists and conservationists appealed to present and future leaders of the country to put the environment in the forefront of its agenda as it moves to a “new normal” amid the COVID-19 crisis .

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“The survival of humans depends on nature,” read the open letter. “When we create an imbalance in natural systems, the ability of nature to repair itself and take care of us is compromised.”

The signatories include members of civil society groups working toward conservation, such as Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, Save Sharks Network Philippines, Save the Philippine Seas and World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines.

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Pioneering environmentalists, such as lawyers Tony Oposa Jr. and Antonio La Viña, were also among those who joined the call.

To prevent future pandemics, conservationists said the present and future government must address three emergencies that underpin the current COVID-19 crisis: biodiversity loss, climate change and “ecological amnesia.”

“Business leaders must consistently endeavor to make their company’s operations and supply chains greener and more socially equitable and genuinely embrace a circular economy,” they wrote.

“I hope that this pandemic makes more people realize that environmental degradation and misuse of wildlife by a small percent of people is causing this massive problem to everyone,” said Emerson Sy, executive director of the Philippine Center for Terrestrial and Aquatic Research, in an interview.

Early research on the new coronavirus has linked its origins in wild animals. While the virus’ source is still uncertain, conservationists say the illegal wildlife trade has paved an easier path for pathogens to make the fatal leap from animals to humans.

“We should not separate environmental protection measures from how we address the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Kalikasan national coordinator Leon Dulce. “It is part and parcel of the solution that the government and the public should undertake.”

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TAGS: conservationists, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, greener agenda
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