Impacts of Coronavirus on the Environment

By: Vijay GarG

Global research finds dramatic rise in numbers of people concerned about nature loss

The COVID-19 pandemic has injected fuel in the “eco-awakening” across the globe, new international research has revealed.

The research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has shown that public interest in and concern for nature rose 16% in five years since 2016. The pandemic gave this concern, dubbed as eco-awakening, a digital push.

The survey report titled “An eco-wakening: Measuring global awareness, engagement and action for nature” shows a 65% increase in digital activism via Twitter with mentions of nature and biodiversity increasing from 30 million to 50 million in the last four years.

The report was released ahead of the International Day for Biodiversity that the United Nations is scheduled to observe on May 22.

The report said a variety of influencers such as spiritual leaders, including the Pope, politicians, major news organisations and celebrities had used their voice on behalf of nature with social media posts reaching a combined audience of almost 1 billion people worldwide.

Growing concern in India

The research said people across the world, particularly in developing economies were increasingly aware of the planetary crisis, and this was affecting their behaviour in a rapidly growing global mood.

“In a clear validation of a growing trend, concerned individuals and consumers are acting on their concerns and demanding action over nature loss and biodiversity in an assortment of ways,” it said.

The research also revealed consumers were voting with their Google clicks that were showing the growing popularity of nature-related searches driven primarily by Asian countries such as India (190%) and Indonesia (53%).

Additionally, increasingly large numbers of people see nature loss as a serious global problem with 96% of respondents located in Latin America indicating this, the highest of any region surveyed. This shift in public sentiment reflects a hard reality, as people in emerging markets were most likely to experience the devastating impacts from the loss of nature, the study said.

The concerns have reflected in a 71% rise in the popularity of searches for sustainable goods over the past five years, also during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But despite the extraordinary speed of its destruction, nature is rarely at the top of the global agenda, even though its loss represents a huge threat to the global economy and human health.

“The results of this research are crystal clear: concern over the impact we are having on the natural world is growing rapidly and particularly in emerging markets, where people are feeling more acutely the impacts of deforestation, unsustainable fishing, species extinction and the decline of eco-systems,” Marco Lambertini, director-general of WWF International said.

The research also pointed out how the loss of nature had increased people’s vulnerability to pandemics, undermining efforts to tacking the climate crisis and threatening livelihoods. Global leaders, scheduled to meet later this year on climate and the environment, needed to focus on reversing biodiversity loss, securing a nature-positive world setting sustainable development goals, the report said

 Author is Retired Principal Malout Punjab


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