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Groups urge new policies to curb COVID-19 impacts on nature

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A woman wearing face mask sanitise her hands outside the St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland in Lagos following the reopening of Churches and lifting of restrictions on religious gatherings by the government as precaution to check the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus at the Holy Cross Cathedral, on August 9, 2020. – Nigerian government has lifted the ban on religious gathering across the country as measure to check the spread of the novel COVID-19 pandemic, but with conditions that worshippers adhere strictly to precautionary measures to curtail the spread of the virus. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)


Conservationists have insisted that unless African countries develop robust policies and strategies to mitigate challenges facing nature, a post Covid-19 disaster may remained unavoidable.

The organisations – World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and International Support Network for Africa Development (ISNAD-Africa), emphasised the need for a holistic approach to anthropogenic activities while ensuring wealth of the people without jeopardising the health of the planet. 

“Such an approach is crucial to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals as enshrined in the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union,” the group said in a statement signed by Wuraola Okuwobi.

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This is coming at a time when Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT), estimated to worth more than $150billion yearly continue to thrive on the continent despite global concerns and continuous rise in cases of animal-to-man diseases like COVID-19, Ebola, Lassa Fever and others.

The global non-governmental organisation noted that with the large-scale disruption of development on the continent by the pandemic, governments across Africa countries should force the continent to implement strategies that save nature.

The warning came under a campaign tagged Africa4Nature Health (A4NH) Initiative, which aimed at forcing local and international organisations to discuss the various linkages between COVID-19 and nature conservation and biodiversity and preventive measures to address looming challenges.

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According to the organisations, the relative neglect of the environmental dimension in development matrices contributes to the emergence of zoonosis including COVID19, adding that deploying socioeconomic recovery plans without commensurate integration of the environmental dimension in building back post-COVID19 would be laying the foundation blocks for future pandemics, among other environmental emergences. 

“This highlights the need for a holistic approach in developing the post-COVD19 recovery plans. The variance in the economic perspective of post-COVID19 recovery plans of African governments and the need for a green and just post-COVID19 recovery plans necessitate raising public awareness and engagement with relevant stakeholder to support and push the African governments to commit to a green and just post-COVID19 recovery plan,” the group noted.

They decried that the ability of civil society organisations (CSOs) to influence policymakers, among other stakeholders, has been limited by the various approaches to governance with the intervening bureaucracies. 

To them, the extent to which the opinion and interest of the Civil Society Organsiations feed into the decision matrix of policymakers has been sub-optimal due to minimal engagement between policymakers and CSOs.  

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