European Wilderness Society

Expert panel discussion: Will the coronavirus pandemic have a lasting impact on Nature Conservation?

8 Weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic started officially it is taken much more seriously than climate overheating. Are the two emergencies competing with each other, or can the coronavirus outbreak help in addressing climate emergency? The Earth is becoming a global experimental laboratory, and we are being forced into adopting new changes that we have not yet been able to do on our own before. 

Please also read: Never waste a crisis

In recent years, we have become accustomed to the fact that most of the world’s cities with the highest air pollution are in China, but this winter, air pollution in China has dropped drastically. The reasons behind are no other than the measures taken against the coronavirus: the mass shutdown of factories and the radical decline in traffic. However, the beneficial effects of quarantine on the environment are not just about air quality. China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, however, this year it is estimated that they could emit 25% less greenhouse gases.

While draconian austerity measures have halted the spread of the virus in China, the situation has become dramatic in the rest of the world. The WHO announced a pandemic on Wednesday, 11th of March, with more and more countries experiencing an exponential growth rate of spread and mortality in several countries exceeding Chinese peaks. Can the pandemic bring positive impacts for the climate globally? Instead of international agreements, change in consumer fashions, and commitments of large industries, it would be a virus which will bring benefits for the environment? And should governments and central banks around the world invest trillions of Euros just to make sure our fossil fuel based economy can be restored to the state it was before? Should we even think about going back to “normal”, when “normal”is the problem itself?

Panel discussion

We are interested, what leading experts of the nature conservation sector think about the current crisis. That’s why on 12th May 2020 we hosted a panel discussion, where we brought together international experts to talk about some of these questions, and discuss what they are concerned about, hopeful for, or even looking forward to in the future.

Panel Members

  • Peter Hobson: Writtle College, UK
  • Jo Roberts, CEO of The Wilderness Foundation, UK
  • John Hausdoerffer, Western Colorado University, USA
  • Pierre Ibisch, University of Sustainable Development Eberswalde, Germany
  • Hannes Knapp, Primeval Forest Expert and Expert of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (ret), Germany,
  • Mauro Belardi, Chairman NGO Eliante, Italy
  • Max A E Rossberg, Chairman, NGO European Wilderness Society, Austria

For more information, visit the Vlado Vancura Wilderness Academy.

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