The last day of the Youth Environment Assembly featured a discussion on the environmental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), drew fascinating connections between the current pandemic, recession, and species extinction. Youth will be among the worst affected, she argued. Most youth in the world are in developing countries, which are hardest hit by the pandemic. The disruption of ecosystems and loss of plants may mean that traditional knowledge could fail to be passed from one generation to another. Youth may not inherit such knowledge, losing their cultural traditional knowledge.
Others in the event noted that many of the behavioural changes might be temporary. But, they said that the pandemic has led to unprecedented levels of government action, which could prove useful to address climate change and biodiversity loss.
Noting the growing use of plastic during the pandemic, Kim van Daalen, Cambridge University, highlighted the lack of sustainability in the health care sector and urged the sector to address the climate crisis. Mrema called for thinking past the present crisis because human action could contribute to future pandemics.