World Environment Day 2021: 75% Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Are Zoonotic, Caused By Biodiversity Loss, Warns UN Environment Programme Official

World Environment Day 2021: 75% Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Are Zoonotic, Caused By Biodiversity Loss, Warns UN Environment Programme Official

On World Environment Day, Inger Andersen, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme said that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it has become to rethink the relationship of humans with nature
World Environment Day: 75% Of Emerging Infectious Diseases Are Zoonotic, Caused By Biodiversity Loss, Warns UN Environment Programme OfficialWorld Environment Day: Because of erratic human actions, the biodiversity loss is happening on a large scale which has become one of the biggest reasons of zoonotic diseases (diseases transmitted from animals to humans) emerging as a global concern, said Inger Andersen of UNEP
  • Humans, environment and environmental health are one and the same: UNEP
  • This World Environment Day let's move from crisis to healing: UNEP
  • Zoonotic diseases that can be passed on from animals to humans on the rise

New Delhi: According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the issue of zoonotic diseases or zoonoses which are the illnesses that can be passed on from animals to humans is emerging as an issue of global concern. UNEP stressed that zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, Ebola, Swine Flu, Lyme disease among others are interlinked with the health of ecosystems. The degradation of the environment and the loss of biodiversity caused by indiscriminate human actions may result in frequent pandemics like the ongoing COVID-19 in the coming years. On World Environment Day which is celebrated every year on June 5, to raise awareness and action for the protection of the environment, NDTV spoke with Inger Andersen, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UNEP who said in her message that the time to act is now and we cannot afford to lose another hour ignoring the environmental crisis facing the planet.

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

Ms Andersen warned that because of the biodiversity loss that is happening on a large scale, over 60 per cent of non-infectious disease and about 75 per cent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. She said,

Now, we have to understand that to a large extent, human activity is largely to blame. We have intensified agriculture, we have fragmented nature, we have expanded infrastructure, we have extracted resources at the expense of these wild remote bases. Factory farms are linked to 25 per cent of infectious diseases in humans and travel and transport and food supply chains have erased what were borders and distances between some of these diseases and their appearance.

She further said that COVID-19 is one of the worst zoonotic diseases known so far. In the last century,

Ebola, Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), HIV, Swine Flu, Lyme disease, Rift Valley fever- each one of these preceded COVID-19 and in the last century, we have seen at least six major outbreaks of coronaviruses.

Also Read: Net Zero By 2050: International Energy Agency Calls For Unprecedented Transformation Of How Energy Is Produced

2021-2030: UN Decade Of Ecosystem Restoration

Ms Andersen said that the pandemic has shown that there is an urgent need to rethink the human relationship with nature. With an aim to work towards this, the UNEP has decided to dedicate the decade 2021-2030 to ecosystem restoration. This year, the world environment day will mark the launch of the program ‘UN Decade Of Ecosystem Restoration’, she said.

In 2021, we must take deliberate steps to move from crisis to healing. And to do that, we need to recognize that restoration of nature, restoration of our planet is the way to go, it is imperative to the survival of our planet and to the human race. This decade is designed to connect, empower and build political momentum; generate scientific research and create a groundswell of support for actions of on ecosystem restoration. A decade might seem like a long time, but scientists say that the next 10 years would count most in the fight to avert climate change and to avert biodiversity loss.

Talking further about why it is imperative to take immediate environmental actions, Ms Andersen said that by degrading the natural world, people are chipping away AT the very foundation of what makes their well-being possible. Be it food, water, shelter, clothes, climate, economic growth, all of these are provided by the nature, she said. Ms Andersen added,

At the end of the day, humans, environment and environmental health are one and the same. And that must be the learning we all must take from this terrible pandemic of COVID-19 and the tragic suffering that we are seeing around the world including in India.

Also Read: Global Carbon Emissions Set For Second-Biggest Increase In History: International Energy Agency

Achieving Sustainable Development Goals By Averting Climate Change And Biodiversity Loss

According to Ms Andersen, now is the time, the chance that humanity has to put the planet back on a sustainable course. She said,

By restoring the ecosystem, we are addressing sustainable development and therefore, hitting on the targets of sustainable development goals. And in doing so, we are safeguarding human well-being and health as we are taking care of this planet.

Out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the following seven have a direct relation with environmental issues:

SDG 1- No Poverty
SDG 7- Affordable and Clean Energy
SDG 11- Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG 12- Responsible consumption and Production
SDG 13- Climate Action
SDG 14- Life Below Water
SDG 15- Life on Land

In its ‘The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020’, the United Nations has said that while each of these targets was showing slow progress before the pandemic hit the world, these have become increasingly hard to achieve because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As the climate emergency intensifies, Ms Andersen says that the transition towards climate stability has become critical. On the link between climate change and human health, she said,

We also need to think about the climate change which has further contributed to the pathogens and will do so more if we don’t get a check on the climate change and so the end result is that people and animals with the diseases are closer than ever.

Ms Andersen stressed that now more than ever before in history, it has become imperative that the degradation of the natural world needs to be prevented, halted and reversed.

Also Read: A Forest Officer From Jharkhand Comes Up With An Idea To Stop Forest Fires, Illegal Tree Felling And Creates Jobs

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 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,89,21,889 and 42,35,871 have died; 6,44,02,340 are active cases and 13,02,83,678 have recovered as on August 3, 2021 at 3:55 am.


3,17,26,507 30,549Cases
3,08,96,354 38,887Recovered
4,25,195 422Deaths
In India, there are 3,17,26,507 confirmed cases including 4,25,195 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,04,958 and 3,08,96,354 have recovered as on August 3, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

63,15,063 4,869

78,700 3,650

61,03,325 8,429

1,33,038 90


34,25,473 13,984

1,65,834 2,057

32,42,684 15,923

16,955 118


29,08,284 1,285

24,045 123

28,47,627 1,383

36,612 25

Tamil Nadu

25,63,544 1,957

20,385 139

25,09,029 2,068

34,130 28

Andhra Pradesh

19,70,008 1,546

20,582 437

19,36,016 1,968

13,410 15

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,500 24

646 18

16,85,091 42


West Bengal

15,29,295 575

10,803 171

15,00,331 734

18,161 12


14,36,401 51

538 44

14,10,809 95



10,02,458 236

1,918 1

9,87,012 234

13,528 3


9,79,737 1,032

13,318 820

9,60,386 1,785

6,033 67


9,53,704 16

241 9

9,44,509 25



8,24,922 22

251 3

8,14,595 25


Madhya Pradesh

7,91,862 17

132 7

7,81,217 10



7,69,956 14

703 12

7,59,614 25

9,639 1


7,24,917 37

401 34

7,14,872 71



6,45,997 591

8,819 54

6,33,371 643

3,807 2


5,99,162 32

473 31

5,82,395 63



5,68,257 1,275

12,429 213

5,50,534 1,469

5,294 19


3,47,223 23

239 15

3,41,855 38



3,42,198 37

574 35

3,34,261 71

7,363 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,725 118

1,254 43

3,16,090 73

4,381 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,06,369 208

1,304 75

2,01,543 132

3,522 1


1,71,295 90

1,027 16

1,67,118 72

3,150 2


1,21,059 54

944 38

1,18,320 92



99,872 541

9,814 591

88,480 1,120

1,578 12


79,026 304

3,104 12

75,167 292



65,939 350

5,843 200

58,987 537

1,109 13


61,960 6

33 3

61,116 3


Arunachal Pradesh

48,565 305

3,508 167

44,823 469

234 3


40,111 748

12,316 127

27,642 618

153 3


28,004 59

1,300 44

26,130 99

574 4


26,880 126

3,323 131

23,211 256

346 1


20,345 5

57 0

20,081 5


Dadra And Nagar Haveli


15 9

10,631 9



10,207 12

79 4

10,078 8


Andaman And Nicobar Islands


6 1

7,404 1


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