The Wildlife Conservation Society issued the following statement in regards to the G-7 meeting in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, UK:

“The leaders at the G7 Summit made several important commitments addressing the interlinked existential crises facing our planet – climate change, biodiversity loss, and zoonotic pandemics. The renewed focus on nature by these nations is an essential step for the world to successfully tackle these crises.

“We welcome several elements in the G-7’s Communique and associated 2030 Nature Compact. In the Nature Compact, the leaders committed to champion ‘ambitious and effective global biodiversity targets, including conserving or protecting at least 30 percent of global land and at least 30 percent of the global ocean.’ While these G7 governments had already committed to ‘30×30’ domestically, it is encouraging to see this leadership at the global scale in advance of critical global negotiations on a post-2020 global biodiversity framework that will guide biodiversity conservation over the coming decades.

“As noted in the Nature Compact, 30×30 forms a critical foundation for the conservation and restoration efforts needed this decade, but the G-7’s ambitious and welcome support for additional targets to prevent the loss, fragmentation and degradation of ecosystems in their entirety is also critical to successfully address the interlinked crises of biodiversity, climate and pandemics.

“The G-7 nations, likewise, importantly committed to increased climate finance, particularly finance for nature-based solutions, by 2025, and stressed that all international development assistance deliver positive outcomes overall for people, climate and nature. We are encouraged by the G-7 members aligning behind this broader nature-positive agenda that also includes support for more sustainable supply chains that decouple agricultural production from deforestation and forest degradation.

On health, the G-7 members committed to strengthening a ‘One Health’ approach across all aspects of pandemic prevention and preparedness. However, the commitments from the leaders fell short of what is truly needed to prevent future pandemics such as COVID-19. Although we appreciate the attention on preparedness and post-spillover responses, one critical element is missing entirely: a commitment to take the critical actions needed to prevent the next spillover of zoonotic pathogens from wildlife and other animals to people. Spillover of pathogens from wildlife and other animals to people is not inevitable if strong commitments and actions are put in place. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure, and prevention of the spillover of pathogens from animals should not be forgotten.

(Read in full here: The WCS Policy on Preventing Epidemics and Pandemics of Zoonotic Origin: The Role of Wild Meat Markets and Wildlife Trade)

“As part of a global and multilateral effort to prevent the next COVID-19, governments must have a laser focus on targeted actions that are designed to prevent the spillover of zoonotic pathogens from animals to humans. As with wildfires, we need all the resources we can gather to extinguish pandemics but even more importantly, we need to take steps to stop them from ever starting. It is critical for governments to consider and adopt a new, legally binding treaty or protocol that addresses pandemic prevention at the source, including actions to combat deforestation and forest degradation, wildlife trade and markets for human consumption, and other factors that increase contact between people and wildlife. In the U.S. Congress, several bills are being considered which would ensure the US is focused on these actions. WCS is encouraging passage and rallying support for these bills with our effort called, Protect Wildlife. Protect Us.

“We are encouraged by the strong focus on nature by the G-7. This meeting was a welcome precursor to the gathering of world leaders later in the year at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow and the 15th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD CoP15) in Kunming, China.”