World Environment Day 2021: COVID-19 Will Not Be The Last Pandemic, Says Environmentalist Chandra Bhushan

World Environment Day 2021: COVID-19 Will Not Be The Last Pandemic, Says Environmentalist Chandra Bhushan

There is a link between the destruction of the environment and the emergence of pandemics like COVID-19, said Chandra Bhushan, CEO, International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology (iFOREST)
Environment, World Environment Day
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World Environment Day 2021: COVID-19 Will Not Be The Last Pandemic, Says Environmentalist Chandra BhushanDestruction of the environment results in the outbreak of zoonotic diseases: Chandra Bhushan, Environmentalist and CEO, iFOREST
  • Human health, environment and ecosystem are interrelated: Mr Bhushan
  • Last 20 years, the world has already witnessed three pandemics
  • The frequency of pandemic is increasing with environment degradation

New Delhi: World Environment Day 2021 marks the launch of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a 10-year push to halt and reverse the decline of the natural world. United Nations Environment Programme defines an ecosystem as a place where plants, animals and other organisms, in conjunction with the landscape around them, come together to form the web of life. Ecosystems can be large, like a forest, or small, like a pond. However, in the recent past, human activities have destroyed many ecosystems that have resulted in the outbreak of numerous diseases and pandemics.

Also Read: Opinion: At War With The Ecology- The COVID-19 Pandemic Is The Biggest Environmental Crisis Precipitated By Humans

Destruction Of Ecosystem And The Emergence Of Pandemics

According to Chandra Bhushan, CEO, International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology (iFOREST), there is a very close linkage between human health, the environment and the ecosystem. In fact, he says that there is a link between the destruction of the environment and the emergence of pandemics.

In an interview with NDTV, Mr Bhushan explained the emergence of zoonotic diseases (which spill over from animals to humans) as a result of the destruction of the environment. He said,

One of the fundamental reasons for zoonotic diseases historically has been the destruction of environment and ecosystems. For example, it is generally believed that many of the zoonotic diseases including Zika, Nipah, West Nile fever and Rift Valley fever happened because of animal and humans coming in contact with each other because of deforestation. There are other reasons why zoonotic diseases occur and one of the fundamental reasons is the practice of eating exotic animals. For example, COVID-19 is also possibly linked with the eating of exotic animals. And then the third factor for zoonotic is when we start producing animal food in a very intensive manner by pumping antibiotics and other things. For instance, Swine Flu is linked to pig farms. Now, all three factors are related to the destruction of the environment or are intervention in the ecosystem.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also said to be a result of human invasion into the environment and the ecosystem. With biodiversity lapsing and the environment degrading, the world is in danger of having more pandemics in the near future.

Also Read: World Environment Day: 75% Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Are Zoonotic, Caused By Biodiversity Loss, Warns UN Environment Programme Official

Urging the need to protect the ecosystem and in turn ourselves, Mr Bhushan said,

I am afraid that COVID-19 is not going to be the last pandemic that humanity is going to face. In 20 years of the 21st century, we have already had three pandemics whereas in the 19th century we had just one major pandemic. So, the frequency of pandemics is increasing and it is important that we recognise it and therefore, the decade of ecosystem restoration which is the theme of this year’s environment day is very very important.

20 Per Cent Of Global Landmass Has Been Degraded

Degradation of 20 per cent of the global landmass has happened largely because of deforestation, intensive agriculture and urbanisation, said Mr Bhushan. Essentially, this means that we have degraded our soil, we have eliminated forest and therefore, we have reduced the diversity of wildlife.

20 per cent of the global land mass is equivalent to 2 billion hectares of land which is about 6 times the size of India. So, the large scale degradation of land and therefore, animal and plant lives and micro-organisms who would depend on those lands have had an extensive impact on ecosystem goods and services, said Mr Bhushan.

The environmentalist also noted that due to land degradation many of the micro-organisms which we do not even know existed could have perished by now because our ability to find animals is also limited. A large number of animal species would have perished because of human intervention on land and also on marine.

Also Read: Opinion: Responding To Triple Crises Of Environment, COVID-19 Pandemic And Hunger

The Link Between Climate Change And Diseases

Melting glaciers, diminishing green cover, rise in temperature are all a result of climate change. But how is it linked to the outbreak of diseases? Elaborating on the same, Mr Bhushan said,

Increase in temperature is going to change the range and characteristic of micro-organisms as well as the carriers of those micro-organisms. What it means is that because of the increase in temperature mosquitoes, for example, will be found at higher altitudes so you now see malaria reaching higher reaches of the Himalayas. Similarly, some of the micro-organisms, some of the disease causing vectors are likely to reach places where they won’t reach because of temperature. In colder climate, you do see less number of some of disease causing vectors.

Similarly, virus and bacteria which survive on higher temperatures are likely to survive within the human body as well and this will have its own implications on our disease fighting ability, added Mr Bhushan.

Therefore, there are multiple ways in which an increase in temperature is going to impact both where the disease reaches, in as well as our ability to fight the disease. Hence, it becomes crucial to restore our ecosystem and protect the environment and human life from future outbreaks.

Also Read: UN Chief Calls For A Global Partnership To Address COVID-19, Climate Change And Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


Coronavirus has spread to 193 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 17,66,30,634 and 38,22,022 have died; 5,80,25,717 are active cases and 11,47,82,895 have recovered as on June 16, 2021 at 3:30 am.


2,96,33,105 62,224Cases
2,83,88,100 1,07,628Recovered
3,79,573 2,542Deaths
In India, there are 2,96,33,105 confirmed cases including 3,79,573 deaths. The number of active cases is 8,65,432 and 2,83,88,100 have recovered as on June 16, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

59,24,773 7,652

1,41,440 8,982

56,69,179 15,176

1,14,154 1,458


27,77,010 5,041

1,62,303 9,859

25,81,559 14,785

33,148 115


27,48,204 12,246

1,12,792 1,456

26,23,904 13,536

11,508 166

Tamil Nadu

23,78,298 11,805

1,25,215 11,669

22,23,015 23,207

30,068 267

Andhra Pradesh

18,20,134 5,741

75,134 4,879

17,32,948 10,567

12,052 53

Uttar Pradesh

17,03,207 270

7,221 890

16,74,072 1,104

21,914 56

West Bengal

14,68,044 3,268

20,046 1,125

14,30,949 2,068

17,049 75


14,31,498 228

3,078 148

14,03,569 364

24,851 12


9,88,172 609

11,717 943

9,63,113 1,544

13,342 8


9,50,133 172

5,619 848

9,35,658 1,006

8,856 14


8,59,526 3,405

44,358 3,436

8,11,780 6,799

3,388 42


8,21,078 352

8,884 658

8,02,187 1,006

10,007 4

Madhya Pradesh

7,88,649 224

3,610 331

7,76,424 528

8,615 27


7,66,357 228

3,703 374

7,53,584 564

9,070 38


7,17,949 410

4,360 412

7,04,075 813

9,514 9


6,06,436 1,556

19,933 528

5,82,993 2,070

3,510 14


5,89,153 628

10,802 1,111

5,62,701 1,691

15,650 48


4,66,590 3,415

41,184 475

4,21,378 2,906

4,028 34


3,43,793 184

2,646 416

3,36,058 596

5,089 4


3,37,449 274

3,642 266

3,26,822 515

6,985 25

Jammu And Kashmir

3,08,726 715

12,407 1,125

2,92,114 1,830

4,205 10

Himachal Pradesh

1,99,197 321

4,050 382

1,91,737 691

3,410 12


1,63,048 327

4,175 231

1,55,926 548

2,947 10


1,13,192 355

4,668 279

1,06,828 629

1,696 5


61,200 40

486 21

59,917 58

797 3


61,096 785

8,744 301

51,354 476

998 8


60,385 536

4,886 65

54,870 596

629 5


42,759 450

4,430 99

37,579 542

750 7

Arunachal Pradesh

31,938 290

2,849 40

28,934 326

155 4


23,854 101

2,972 229

20,423 327

459 3


19,649 38

552 20

18,898 57

199 1


18,659 209

3,239 67

15,136 273

284 3


15,899 268

3,637 45

12,191 312

71 1

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,473 9

61 2

10,408 7



9,297 61

484 36

8,768 96

45 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,280 11

105 4

7,049 15


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