I. A pandemic as a tipping point?

Executive Summary

International rules and policies on the food supply chain

On the 14th of January 2021, a team of specialist commissioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO) arrived in the city of Wuhan, China. The city is considered to be, according to preliminary information, the epicentre of the Covid-19 virus dispersion. The Wuhan Wet Market attracts the attention, since customers and witnesses have described the lack of safety and hygienic measures in the live animal area. The Wuhan market is known for its stalls and stands where bats and pangolins are proposed in the vicinity of daily life products and food. Once the initial Covid-19 emitter will be identified, to understand the dispersion phenomenon will be essential to be able to cope with a potential similar situation in the future.

The Covid-19 dispersion has highlighted weaknesses during its dispersion throughout our communities. To prevent potential similar threats, solutions have to be imagined and foreseen:

  • (1) The emergence of infectious diseases is likely to reproduce in the current context: the impacts of climate change on wildlife living environments have to be considered. Methods to reduce the zoonotic diseases propagation will have to be set up, in order to prevent potential similar events.
  • (2) An assessment of the current Regulation on the international level for wildlife products is required. Identifying all the actors involved, will allow to acknowledge the current rules regulating this trade sector. Then, the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need to bridge the gap, in order to bring realistic and effective methods, to rule this market and reduce smuggling.
  • (4) Banning wildlife products trade will not allow to effectively reduce the spread of zoonotic diseases: smuggling and underground market, will somehow last as long as demand is there. The normative and policy framework are the right tools to change consumer habits, and reduce taste for such products.
  • (5) The globalisation trade phenomenon has impacted the whole food chain, from producers to consumers, throughout the last decades. Consumers are now used to accessing products from all around the world, in their everyday life. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for an efficient and effective framework for wildlife products exchanges.
  • (6) In a world where globalised exchanges are common, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need of a robust and responsible governance. Need for improvements has appeared during the crisis, and individual initiatives from the private sector can be source of inspiration to bring effective solutions.

(1) Emergence of infectious diseases

The emergence of infectious diseases is likely to reproduce in the current context: the impacts of climate change on wildlife living environments have to be considered. Methods to reduce the zoonotic diseases propagation will have to be set up, in order to prevent potential similar events.

The frequency and economic impact of emerging infectious diseases is on the rise: nearly three-fourths of emerging infectious diseases -and almost all recent pandemics- are zoonotic, that is they originate in animals, mostly wildlife.

As with many other types of human-wildlife contact, their emergence often involves dynamic interactions among populations of wildlife, livestock and people within environments that rapidly change due to human activities. Some activities are identified as being particularly harmful, as interactions with human populations are linked with urbanization. Changes in populations’ ways of life led to encroaching into wildlife habitats, drove animal species into marginal environments, and resulted in direct competition for limited resources and land. The expansion and intensification of economic activities (such as husbandry, agriculture, fishing, infrastructure development, mining and logging) increase human-wildlife interactions, has largely increased pressure on wildlife habitats.
In order to consider both the direct and indirect costs caused by emerging infectious diseases, with health security and indirect costs caused by emerging infectious disease, healthy and sustainable development solutions need to be implemented. To this end, landscape changes (due to deforestation, mining or urbanization; or with natural drivers such as flooding or droughts) are to be considered as major drivers of the emergence of a number of zoonotic diseases (malaria, dengue fever, Ebola, Lyme disease).
Reasons for an increased exposure to emerging infectious diseases have to be understood: further investigations are required to understand the role of the ecosystem in the disease’s regulation. Drivers can already be identified:

  • Transmission risks, interactions and contacts between wildlife and livestock with populations, require to reduce transmission risks by improving health and well-being of people. For this purpose, multisectoral approaches and solutions will be needed.
  • Landscape changes and biodiversity loss involve major shifts in the ecology of pathogens and the wildlife species they use as hosts and reservoirs. Interaction can subsequently alter disease patterns, modifying knowledge and approaches to cure pathogens.
  • Landscape changes and the biodiversity loss associated can be an exacerbating factor of the ‘dilution effect’ reduction. The ‘dilution effect’ in this context is the ability of species-rich communities to mediate and reduce infection levels and disease.
  • A hypothesis based on an evolutionary mechanism suggests that, as human fragments and converts landscapes, habitat remnants act as ‘islands’ for the wildlife hosts and disease-causing microbes. In this case, a rapid diversification and transmission is possible, increasing transmission probability to human populations.
  • Finally, disrupting areas of high biodiversity may increase zoonotic disease risk.

(2) For an assessment of the wildlife situation

An assessment of the current Regulation on the international level for wildlife products is required. Identifying all the actors involve, will allow to acknowledge the current rules regulating this trade sector. Then, the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need to bridge the gap, in order to bring realistic and effective methods, to rule this market and reduce smuggling.

An estimated 8800 distinct wild animal species, including invertebrates, amphibians, insects, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals used for human food worldwide, are classified on the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Wild animals hunting is intended for a wide end-use variety: comprehensive strategies have to be selected.

Wild meat consumption is a largely widespread practice in 24 countries, across the world. Wild meat is used as a source of vital protein, fat and micronutrient for a diverse dietary. It is also a large income source, a mean of subsistence and support for millions of rural and suburban populations. To reduce smuggling, will require to understand reasons for such practice. The lack of available resources for populations in want, or during temporary events such as droughts or civil unrest, can lead populations into forests looking for available resources that could then be eaten, or sold. Wild meat consumption is mainly a quest for easily available and accessible resources. According to a study made by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, the total value of harvesting around the world is estimated at USD 400 billion (1). This amount represents the household incomes of hunters who chase wild meat for households needs, and sell a larger proportion. Profits are earned by external commercial hunters supplying national and international markets. Wild animals hunting is intended for a wide end-use variety: comprehensive strategies have to be selected and implemented.

‘To reduce smuggling, will require to understand reasons for such practice’

Populations’ growth is increasing hunting and smuggling, in a quest for their daily needs. Improved hunting techniques and wild meat trade to urban areas, are competing with indigenous peoples and rural communities: traditional ways of life, using wild meat as a supplementary food are in direct competition with poachers or illegal hunters. Measures adopted have to take into account ultimate utility, and traditional communities’ practices, in order to promote sustainable and safe sourcing practices. Reducing the risk of a future zoonotic disease dispersion will require to consider both pressures on biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

(3) About the existing policy frameworks

The pandemic is highlighting a lack which appeared in the earliest texts considering human behaviours and impacts: the first instruments were aimed at protecting different objects (nature or wild species) or to define entitlements and organise the exploitation of natural resources. The relation human-nature was understood as a one-way relationship: influence of human behaviour on natural environment, but not the opposite. Then, the Covid-19 crisis will have revealed another understanding for the ‘human-nature’ relationship…

As described by Mr Jorge E. Vinuales (2), the first attempts to define the principles guiding the protection of the environment are the 1972 Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment, and more importantly, and the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The first critics of the texts, considered that such agreements were too vague, to be applicable. Then, jurisprudential developments ‘have brought some clarity to this blurred picture, although at the price of perhaps excessive caution’. The case between Costa Rica and Nicaragua was an opportunity for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to clarify the notion of international law on the question of environmental protection, according to Mr Vinuales (2):

‘to fulfil its obligation to exercise due diligence in preventing significant transboundary environmental harm, a State must, before embarking on an activity having the potential adversely to affect the environment of another State, ascertain if there is a risk of significant transboundary harm, which would trigger the requirement to carry out an environmental impact assessment […] If the environmental impact assessment confirms that there is a risk of significant transboundary harm, the State planning to undertake the activity is required, in conformity with its due diligence obligation, to notify and consult in good faith with the potentially affected State, where that is necessary to determine the appropriate measures to prevent or mitigate that risk’.

The Covid-19 dispersion will also be an opportunity to clarify the concept of responsibility in the case of a virus dispersion and importance of commitment, once the immediate sanitary emergencies will be solved. Updates will then be required to take into account lessons learnt during the virus dispersion, to bring another meaning to the notion of responsibility.
The pandemic is highlighting the need for an update, to take into account that both human and wildlife are deeply embedded. The Covid-19 dispersion has highlighted the fact that as human behaviour has consequences on the natural environment, natural environment can act as a spreader for humanly harmful virus.

An assessment of the current regulations will be required. Most existing regimes for natural living resource management can be divided into two categories: species-based and area-based (habitat) conservation.
Until now, management of living natural resources has long been a subject of international treaty making, with the earliest bilateral agreements on hunting and fishing rules going back to the 18th century, regional fishery treaties emerging in the 19th century, and first multilateral convention on endangered species in 1900. Human practices (hunting, fishing, agricultural crop) have since evolved, following populations evolutions, with the development of intensive farming, fishing and hunting to cover the populations needs. Practice evolution is highlighting the need of a treaty evolution, to match populations increase. The crisis is underlining that natural resource management has to take into account both the animal and vegetal, as well as human practices to be effective. Avoiding to take into account human practices, and promote more sustainable human practices, would lead populations not to understand the appropriateness and validity of nature-based solutions and not to sustainably apply measures and solutions.

The policy and regulations evolution will have to be made in an evolving context: the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, and the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Conference on Environment and Development, are considered to still be marked by antagonisms between pro-environment ‘Northern’ and pro-development ‘Southern’ positions. There is still no-diplomatic consensus on the need for a forest convention -or even a forest protocol to the convention on climate change or biodiversity- on the global agenda.
Covid-19 can be seen as a common ground or challenge: to efficiently and effectively fight the Covid-19 spread, and the socio-economic consequences, will require for the ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern’ countries to be able to combine their approaches and strategies.
The COP-15 UN Biodiversity Conference will be the right demonstration on the way to shape a consensus on the approaches and strategies. The UN Biodiversity Conference was originally scheduled to take place from 15-28 October 2020, in Kunming, China. In light of the pandemic, the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) announced the meeting would finally take place on the 11-24 October 2021. This next conference will represent an opportunity, not to be missed, on the way to bridge the gap between Northern and Southern countries. It can be seen as an opportunity to demonstrate that the Covid-19 has made a consensus achievable.

(4) Need for a policy framework to change consumers habits

Simply banning wildlife products trade will not allow to effectively reduce the spread of zoonotic diseases: smuggling and underground market will somehow continue as long as demand is there. The normative and policy framework are the right tools to change consumer habits, and reduce taste for such products.

The need to understand the reasons for smuggling

In order to effectively reduce smuggling and underground market, will require to reduce consumers demand, starting by understanding the reasons for wildlife meat demand and consumption. Wildlife consumption can be motivated by two main reasons: the search for an inexpensive dietary alternative, or as passing trend seen under the cover of cultural legacy.
At first sight, wildlife consumption can be understood as the demand for cheaper alternative to usual goods and food. A study made with the Tsimane population in the Bolivian Amazon region (3) suggests that prices are important and that even relatively isolated consumers who live in close proximity wildlife are sensitive to price changes when making decisions about meal consumption. As the price of game meat rises, Tsimane populations curtail their consumption of wildlife. At the same time, the price of beef has a correlation with the consumption of game meat and fish: the higher the price, the higher the consumption of game meat and fish. The study suggests that lowering the price of beef will have strong and desirable effects on the consumption of wildlife and fish. Results strongly suggest that increasing consumer access and reducing the price of livestock meat is likely to diminish demand for game meat and consequently reduce or halt unsustainable hunting of wildlife for food. Governments in developing countries have to make greater investments to reduce the price of livestock, by improving productivity of meat and lowering its price for consumers. But at the same time, policies implemented must not have undesirable effects, such as increasing deforestation for the development of cultivable lands and increase the surface available for agriculture.
Hunting and butchering of bushmeat have been increasingly recognized as a source of disease emergence. The diseases emergence is then favoured by wild meat transportation and commercialization. In this case, wild meat consumption can be seen as a ‘passing trend’, a temporary interest or a will to ‘test’ unusual practices. The United states is one of the world’s largest consumers of imported wildlife and wildlife products. Between 2000 and 2006, approximately 1.5 billion live wild animals were legally imported into the United States, nearly 90% of which were destinated for the pet industry (4), and an average of over 25 million kilograms of non-live wildlife enter the United States each year (5). New-York is the most frequently used port of entry into the United Sates, and in combination with Los Angeles and Miami they account for more than half of all known wildlife imports. Most of the bushmeat smuggled into the United States from Africa passes through Europe, and characteristics reaching US borders is not yet well described. Further studies will be required to understand and precisely quantify the phenomena. But as a criminal activity, opacity is inherent to this activity.

The need to consider alternatives for bushmeat consumption
To effectively reduce the spread of zoonotic diseases linked with bushmeat, consumption will have to be planned according to the final use of such meat.
When bushmeat is seen as a main food to reduce food deficiencies and an alternative for regular meat, training efforts and technical improvement have to be made for farmers and local populations. An example of such an effort to train local populations, can be seen in the initiatives led by the Jethro association, based in the Neuchatel region in Switzerland. The association is aiming to increase agricultural productivity by training agricultural techniques to farmers. Mowing techniques are taught, and methods for a better utilisation of livestock manure as fertiliser. Technics are taught by Swiss farmers directly to local producers in a ‘Centre de Formation’ (training campus) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Then, the goal is for populations to locally develop and extend their know-how learnt during training paths. By accompanying and supporting local populations with specific knowledges and know-how, will allow to reduce dependency on natural environment and wildlife for nutrition. Then, by reducing interaction between populations and animals, the risk of zoonotic diseases propagation will be limited.
Bushmeat can be locally consumed, accessed to tables and consumers from all over the world or be used for non-human needs. Alternative nutritional solutions have to be found, and the role of health and sanitary authorities will be essential to ensure regulations are respected regarding imported food.

‘Zaï’ technique teaching: manure and water are disposed in chessboard order holes, for the organic matter to be fixed and limit erosion of sloping lands.

Courses dedicated for Youngs during training periods

Examples of the ‘Jethro’ association actions in Burkina Faso.

Source : ‘Jethro express’ magazine n°58, octobre 2020.

(5) A dispersion in an increasingly globalised context

The globalisation trade phenomenon has impacted the whole food chain, from producers to consumers, throughout the last decades. Consumers are now used to accessing products from all around the world, in their everyday life. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for an efficient and effective framework for wildlife products exchanges.

The pandemic dispersion has highlighted that the “need for an approach which united medical, veterinarian and environmental expertise, will help governments, businesses and civil society achieve enduring health for people, animals and environments alike”. According to the UN framework for the Immediate Socio-economic Response to Covid-19, in April 2020, ‘the success of post-pandemic recovery will also be determined by a better understanding of the context and nature of risk. In view of the covid-19 crisis, this included developing and maintaining a global mapping of encroachment, illegal trade, wet markets.”
The Covid-19 dispersion has highlighted the need to identify strategies to prepare for potential pathogen and zoonoses transmission. In the last decades, pathogenic organisms jumping from animals to humans have been increasing considerably. In order to better understand manner Covid-19 has spread, there is a need to understand the complex relationship between the environment, populations, and human diseases. Wildlife can be a source of human disease; and domesticated animals can act as amplifiers of pathogens emerging in the wild. Human responsibility must be emphasized, emerging infectious diseases can be expanded by human activities such as agricultural intensification and human-induced landscape changes. Agricultural expansion has to be limited, and practical consequences have to be mastered: consequences of the expansion of human populations have to be limited, on pain of counterproductive long-term consequences. The development of biofuel vehicles is positive, as an alternative for the limited oil resources available. But the production of biofuels has to be sustainable, under pain of long-term counterproductive consequences.
The Covid-19 is a strong reminder that disease emergence is not only about relationships between animals and/or wildlife and people, but the complexity of the system has to be considered along with the interactions between biotic or abiotic components. Individuals have to be considered with both their mental and physical health to take into account all the consequences of non-communicable as well as infectious diseases. With this in mind, populations’ health has to be monitored considering linkages between air, water, food security and nutrition.

Covid-19 dispersion as a black swan?
The emergence of pandemics such as the Covid-19 is sometimes seen as a “black swan” (an extremely rare event). A ‘black swan’, with widely predicted consequences due to how people source food, trade animals and alter environments…
To manage emerging infectious diseases, we need to understand their origins, their various types and importance in different communities, and their drivers. Despite millions of microorganisms on Earth, only about 1400 are known as a potential cause of human infection. New diseases in humans can emerge as a result of a change in the nature or behaviour of commensal microorganisms that cause disease, or through injection of novel organisms usually through contact with animals and the environment. Almost 60% of human infections are estimated to have an animal origin (6), with forms of zoonotic viruses created despite bio-insecure industrial and intensive agricultural systems environments. An example is the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The HPAI is originally present among domestic poultry, and has evolved under industrial producing conditions from a low-pathogenic virus to a highly transmissible form despite wild bird populations.
Another example is the Rift Valley fever. Domestic livestock can serve as amplifier hosts for human- and animal- pathogenic viruses that originally circulate between wild animals and mosquitos. The reservoir is the wild animal, the domestic animal acts as the bridging host to human infection. In the case of the Rift Valley fever, human forms are generally benign, the most important ones are scarce: ocular form (0.5 to 2% of patients), meningoencephalitis (less than 1%) or haemorrhagic fever (less than 1%).
An estimated 3 pandemic influenza viruses have a more complex evolution with mixing of viruses in different domestic animal compartments, usually pigs and poultry. Interactions with human influenza present in populations is likely to produce highly pathogenic influenza pandemics. Examples of such influenza migrating to human populations are zoonotic influenza (Bird Flu), pandemic human influenza (H1N1), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SRAS). Most of these influenza forms have a proven or suspected domestic animal involvement in the transmission mechanism. Other diseases (such as the West Nile fever, yellow fever or Zika virus) are indirect zoonoses, but human-animal interactions are involved.

Until now, endemic zoonotic diseases have been neglected, because affecting impoverished or distant populations. Among the important neglected zoonoses are anthrax, bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, rabies, cysticercosis, echinococci, Lassa fever…Neglected zoonoses persist in communities experiencing development problems, which is generally a mix of poverty, poor sanitation, poor access to water and waste removal services, isolation, socio-political insecurity, political margination, low literacy levels, or degraded natural resources.

Transmission from zoonoses to human disease.
Historically, the emergence of new human diseases from animals is associated with major societal change. For example, with the advent of agriculture, nomad populations live in closer proximity to each other, and to their waste land increasing human diseases transmission. The domestication of animals led to livestock pathogens jumping species into people, increasing diseases dispersion such as diphtheria, influenza, measles and smallpox.

Throughout history, the most dramatic ones were:

  • The true bubonic plague, or pest of the 14th century killed millions in Eurasia and North Africa
  • Epidemics of European diseases in the Americas after Europeans arrival in the 16th century: death of up to 95% of the indigenous populations.
  • Tuberculosis outbreak of the 19th century in Europe: death of one in four people.
  • The expansion of colonial rule in Africa facilitated outbreaks of zoonotic sleeping sickness that killed one third of the population in Uganda in the first decade of the twentieth century.
  • The 1918 influenza pandemic that killed some 40 million in the last months of World War 1 and following year.
    Despite the persistence of dramatic viruses’ dispersion, the dispersion process is not yet completely understood, and definitely not mastered.

The need for an effective framework for products exchanges
Calibrating the right answer to create an effective framework to manage products exchanges will require to identify the drivers amplifying zoonotic diseases emergence. Several areas can be identified, each one requiring dedicated approach and measures (7):

  • Increasing demand for animal protein
    High-income countries have experienced little change in consumption of animal source food during the last decade. On the opposite, the animal protein consumption in many low- and middle-income countries has largely, although unevenly, increased. This per capita increase in animal protein consumption, has been followed by significant growths in populations. These factors have driven strong growth in meat (+260%) in milk (+90%) and eggs (+340%) productions.
    The current trends are predicted to continue in the coming decades, involving increasing demand and tensions on the food supply chain for animal protein.
  • Unsustainable agricultural intensification
    Increasing demand for animal-source foods requires intensification and an expanding animal production. The current trend is to develop factory-farming to be able to supply markets with the required quantities by consumers. Increasing the factory farming capacity, means to reducing the distance between animals, and therefore expand the risk of spreading among livestock.
  • Increased use and exploitation of wildlife
    Wildlife can be associated with different practices, each one having its own consequences, depending on use and exploitation of wildlife. With harvesting wild animals as a source of protein, for food needs; or as a recreational hunting, wildlife consumption can be understood as a status symbol.
    Generally, the consumption of wildlife is held in the belief that wild meat is fresh, neutral, traditional and safe.
    Occasionally, trade in live animals can be conducted for recreational use (pets, zoos), or medical testing. Finally, the use of animals for decorative, medicinal and commercial products has to be highlighted.
    An appropriate solution depending on the situations
    Use and trade lead to closer contact between animals and people throughout the supply chain, from wildlife to consumers. Furthermore, infrastructural development has increased human access to wildlife, increasing the risk of diseases dispersion. As animals in the world become scarcer, farming wildlife, or ‘ranching’, has developed as a way to access easily the wildlife species.
    However, local populations may prefer hunting from the wild for economic or traditional reasons. Such a practice is likely to increase the probability of zoonotic diseases spread from wild animal to populations, as has accompanied populations since the first domestication 12000 years ago.
    Throughout agricultural development, unsustainable utilization of natural resources accelerated by urbanization, land use change and extractive industries, rapid urbanization, poor infrastructure construction…has augmented drastically the probability of diverse contacts between wildlife, populations and livestock. Infrastructure development, including new roads and railways, transformation of natural areas to commercial and residential use, lead to destruction and fragmentation of wildlife habitats.
    Encroachment into wildlife habitats for the purpose of extracting natural resources, mining oil or gas extraction, has largely expanded interactions between people and wildlife. These activities often come with other changes, such as new human settlements, road building and movements of people and products.
    Due to the rapid development in infrastructure, and ways to access the world, populations are in direct contact with specific illness. The reduction of transport periods of time, can lead to hide incubation periods. The increasing amount of human and goods travel, is likely to expand the risk of zoonotic diseases emergence.
    Populations dietary habits are diversifying and increasing, raise the risk for disease transmission, or contact with unusual habits.
    Finally, zoonoses are largely climate sensitive. A number of them will widely develop even larger in the plausible and ascertainable scenarios. Zoonotic types, such as the Covid-19 is likely to directly benefit from the conditions created by climate change.

(6) A need for a responsible and reliable governance

In a world where globalised exchanges are common, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need of a robust and responsible governance. Need for improvements has appeared during the crisis, and individual initiatives or from the private sector can be source of inspiration to bring effective solutions.

The Covid-19 dispersion has highlighted the need to manage and regulate wild consumption. In order to select the right strategy, the drivers of an increasing wild meat consumption have to be understood, to be correctly addressed.
An increasing human population is demanding more protein-rich food and income. All the needs cannot be met with traditional resources -land, labour, livestock, capital-alone. Global population densities are increasing, especially in Africa, with the highest rate of population growth, and is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population by 2050. Communities have few incentives to conserve and maintain wildlife and wildlife habitats, and there are few attractive substitutes for these wildlife resources. In many cases, development projects such as chicken and pig farms have provided employment and animal protein to local communities, but failed to reduce pressure on populations of wild species. In other cases, attempts to introduce domesticated animals into communities were unsuccessful, the wild meat trade also serves as a safety net in times of hardship, as it generates both protein and income for poor households.
In some regions or cultures, there is a growing demand for wild meat among wealthy urban elites, for whom consumption of wild animals is a status symbol or a luxury good, or because they prefer a rich or authentic taste. A survey estimated that around 83% of sampled households in Brazzaville, in Republic of the Congo, consumed wild meat.
Increasing connectivity between rural and urban populations is increasingly bringing two different worlds together. In Asia or Africa, much wild meat as well as live wild animals are sold in informal markets. The absence or lack of adequate biosafety measures is likely to increase the risk of zoonotic disease emergence.

The Covid-19 dispersion is highlighting deforestation consequences: forest destruction and disturbance increase human exposure to zoonotic disease reservoirs. An analysis of large-scale deforestation and fragmentation in West and Central Africa from 2001 to 2014 shows that the Ebola virus outbreak was associated with the loss of the dense forests.
Habitat disturbance can alter the dynamics of cross-species pathogen transmission, allowing pathogens to jump from wildlife to other species. The encroachment of natural habitats brings people into greater contact with wildlife, allowing pathogens to jump from wildlife hosts to other species. Landscape transformation and fragmentation reduce feeding habitats of fruits bats or flying foxes, leading them in search for nutrients in peri-urban landscapes, in contact with populations.
Land-use change can facilitate contact between species that usually have little or no prior interaction, allowing pathogens to cross the species barrier, and spread despite populations. Finally, drug and macrobiotics resistance are increasing in industrialized agriculture, increasing risks of disease emergence in livestock and humans.

The Covid-19 is strengthening the need for a more responsible and suitable management of the resources, especially forests.
The need to both considers responsibility and suitability in populations with forests has been demonstrated. The management of the protected areas, especially forests, has to be made by taking into account populations that depend on resources for their daily needs, food and income. An inclusive strategy is required, in order to involve populations in an efficient and sustainable exploitation and protection of wetlands and forests resources. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Earth Summit) in 1992, has then set-in motion principles for suitable forests management. In 1994, the Montréal Process Working Group (MPWG) then defined a set of criteria and indicators to cover the temperate and boreal forests among its 12 member countries (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, New-Zealand, Russian Federation, United States of America and Uruguay).
The Covid-19 apparition and dispersion has highlighted the need for durable and coordinated management of natural resources, especially wetlands and forests. Pressure on these landscapes will keep increasing, due to populations increase and climate change effects. Montreal Process adjustments will be required to take into account actual purposes of forests and wetlands, by populations, and prepare trends to come. The last meeting of the Montreal Process Working Group was in Yanji City in China from August 1st to 5th 2016. A post-Covid meeting will be required, in order to integrate and implement lessons of the crisis.

7) Conclusion

To determine the origins of the Covid19 pandemic, identifying contributing and exacerbating factors in populations will help recognize and implement mitigation strategies. But the initial tasks to take back control of the pandemic dispersion must not be implemented without the essential questions on responsibilities of the virus dispersion. Individual habits and ways of life have exacerbated the virus dispersion.

         To prevent potential similar zoonoses, updates have to be conducted in the specific agreements framing areas concerned by the virus dispersion: Montreal Processes have to be updated to take into account learnings issues of the enquiry on the Covid-19 dispersion origins.

        Mechanisms to identify and prevent future virus dispersion have to be implemented: the strategies, methods, mechanisms identified must be set and adapted quickly if required.

        The Covid-19 has highlighted the necessity to be able to provide and organise a common response. Multilateralism is demonstrated to be essential and indispensable as never before despite criticism.


1. States, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United. Global emergence of infectious disease: links with wild meat consuption, ecosystem disruption , habitat degradation and biodiversity loss. 2020.

2. Vinuales, Jorge E. The Influence of Environmental Protection on the Fabric of International Law.  Riccardo Pisillo Mazzeschi – Pasquale de Sena. Global Justice, Human Rights and the Modernization of International Law. s.l. : Springer, 2018.

3. Lilian Apaza, David Wilkie, Elizabeth Byron, Thomans Huanca, William Leonard, Eddy Perez, Victoria Reyes-Garcia, Vincent Vadez and Ricardo Godoy. Meat Prices influence the consumption of wildlife by the Tsimane Amerindians of Bolivia. Cambridge : Oryx, 2002.

4. Smith K, Behrens M, Schloegel LM, Marano N, Burgiel S. Reducing the risks of the wildlife trade. 2009. pp. 594-5. Science 324.

5. Unit, United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcment Intelligence. US Widlife Trade: An Overview for 1997-2003. 2011.

6. Woolhouse, M.E.J and Gowtage-Sequeria. Host range and emerging and reemerging patohgens. 2005.

7. Programme, UN Environment. Preventing the next pandemic – Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission. 2020.

8. Unit, Office of Law Enforcement Intelligence. US Wildlife Trade: An Overview for 1997-2003. 2011.