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The future of sustainability in the context of COVID-19

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Cawthorn, D.-M., Kennaugh, A. and Ferreira, S. M. (2021) The future of sustainability in the context of COVID-19. Ambio, 50 (4). pp. 812-821. ISSN 1654-7209


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01430-9


The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis emanating both from a virus (SARS-CoV-2) and from the drastic actions to contain it. Here, we reflect on the immediate responses of most world powers amid the pandemic chaos: totalitarian surveillance and nationalist isolation. Drawing on published literature, we consider measures such as wildlife-use bans, lockdowns and travel restrictions, along with their reverberations for people, economies and the planet. Our synthesis highlights significant shortfalls of applying command-and-control tactics in emergencies. For one, heavy-handed bans risk enormous unintended consequences and tend to fail if they lack legitimacy or clash with people’s values. Furthermore, reactive and myopic strategies typically view the pandemic as a stand-alone crisis, rather than unravelling the complex interplay of nature-society interactions through which zoonotic diseases originate. A return to adaptive management approaches that recognise root causes and foster socio-ecological resilience will be essential to improve human and planetary health and mitigate future pandemics.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Crop and Food Science
Keywords:Adaptive management COVID-19 Emerging disease Nationalist isolation Totalitarian surveillance Wildlife trade Zoonosis
Live Archive:05 Apr 2022 04:07
Last Modified:27 Mar 2023 06:41

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