Biodiversity in the context of pandemics

Functional ecosystems form an important foundation for human health. Among other things, nature provides us with clean water, healthy food and medicinal products. Well-functioning ecosystems depend in turn on their species diversity, as only an ecological equilibrium can guarantee the stability and capabilities of this ecosystem.

A continual loss of habitats as a result of land use changes and unsustainable practice, unfortunately leads to the loss of sanctuaries and natural biotopes for wild animals. As a result, these animals are forced into territories occupied by humans, causing increased contact between humans and animals, with an increasing risk of disease transmission.

To reduce the risk of pandemics like Covid-19, greater effort is required both at a national and global level, coupled with greater awareness of the interrelationships between biodiversity and human health and a greater priority for conservation as a matter of public policy. The conservation of ecosystems and their services must become systematically integrated into land use and development planning, so as to reduce points of contact between Humans and wild animals as well as domestic or farm animals and wild animals. Increasing awareness over the long term for relevant stakeholder in government, international cooperation, healthcare and agriculture is needed, to make the interrelationships between human wellbeing, conservation and the preservation of natural habitats a conscious part of our decision-making about the natural world.

Since its formation, IKI has been working to counter the degradation and fragmentation of ecosystems, and to highlight the links between the protection and sustainable use of natural resources and human prosperity. IKI projects help to foster ecosystem integrity while networking biotopes and habitats, so that these areas can continue to function as sanctuaries for wild animals. Thanks to the participative approaches that are promoted, collaborations with local populations have also made a significant contribution to combating poaching and human-animal conflicts in many projects. IKI projects have also raised awareness about the environment in partner countries, and shared know-how about the interrelationships between ecosystem services and preserving human livelihoods. The ‘one health’ approach is now an increasingly important IKI topic. This approach is responding to new global challenges with an integrated approach to promote healthy ecosystems, healthy animals and healthy people.