Today, as we commemorate the World Environment Day with the theme “Celebrate Biodiversity”, we are one with environmental defenders and fellow advocates in working towards a common goal of protecting biodiversity for the health and well-being of the citizenry.
The spread of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 is a result of the degraded ecosystems tantamount to the loss of biodiversity. This is why along with pushing for scientific response and ending human rights violations during the crisis, we call to uplift the declining state of the country’s biodiversity caused by the unbridled exploitation of large corporations.
As the “Planetary Health” concept says that environmental decline puts public health at great peril, restoring biodiversity must be integral to the new normal if we want to prevent the emergence of new diseases, maintain sustenance, survive the decade and the next.
Reforestation and the effective and sustainable management of biological sources is an inevitable step of the road ahead. Community participation and the integration of indigenous knowledge in conservation is seen as vital to these efforts.
Maintaining a bountiful endemic plant species is crucial in securing the necessary food and nutrition in disease outbreak and potential sources of drugs. Urban rewilding or bringing back biodiversity in the cities must also be given attention as it would provide immunity to the bulk of the population from microbial exposure.
Government officials and policymakers must collaborate with civil society organizations as well as heed to the ordinary citizens in building reforms and policies in relation to the country’s biodiversity and environment as a whole.
We call on the Filipino public to stand in solidarity with environmental defenders and encourage participation in our campaigns of highlighting the essence of environmental protection in public health. In our collective strength, we can achieve our goal.