The UN asks not to forget the environmental part in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery

The UN estimates that the considerable investment that the countries of the region will undertake to repair their economy and reduce the impacts of future post-COVID-19 pandemics, must go hand in hand with public policies that integrate the environmental element, sustainable development and attention to the global problem of climate change.

This was said in an interview with Efe by the regional director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Venezuelan-Trinidadian, Leo Heileman, for whom the impact of the COVID pandemic would even make it difficult for countries to comply with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The COVID crisis has also brought to light the consumption and production trends that affect ecosystems, nature, and the animals on which "human beings" depend "at a very important level" for the economy, social welfare, and reduce hunger and poverty, "said Heileman.

The senior UN official said that as a result of the destruction of these habitats, the future is more difficult in economic and social terms, because "most of our economies and the medicines we use depend on those ecosystems."

He stressed that then Covid "has brought us to the reality of the links between forests, biodiversity, animals, the impact on our health," as well as the "worsening of the economic system and the increase in hunger."

He assured that he also knows that "the majority of countries will have much more difficulty in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the expense of this COVID-19."

In this sense, Heileman said that "in the future, so much investment will have to be made to recover the economic and social aspects, and food security and the reduction of hunger, (and we) must try to ensure don't forget the environmental component in terms of that reconstruction effort. "

"COVID arrives and shows us that we are doing wrong, not only because of the destruction of these habitats and exposing ourselves more to these diseases due to the proximity to this wildlife. We are not ensuring for the future that we continue to enjoy the services that those ecosystems and habitats provide us, "he said.


In specific terms, the United Nations Environment Program considers that the post-COVID-19 recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean, where countries will undergo an economic contraction after facing the health crisis, must integrate solutions for development. sustainable and zero emissions.

If these solutions to the health crisis are not integrated, according to UNEP, the recovery and start-up of the economies will lead this region down a path with more serious effects than those of COVID-19.

Heileman recalled that in the experience recorded with other types of economic impacts in the region, it has been seen that later, although profits have been made in the difficult period, it returns to normal.

In other words, he added, "we return producing in the same way without controlling emissions, without making new policies in terms of reducing future impacts."

He stressed that we must not forget for these policies that climate change "is a global problem that is affecting us and that is going to have very harsh consequences, and we have to ensure that we include components to reduce and curb climate change and also to protection of biodiversity. "

"Make policies that clearly show the link between our desires for food security, our desires to reduce poverty and the link between the natural ecosystems that we have, because when we destroy that we will not be able to continue production, because we will not have those resources "and the services provided by ecosystems, he said.

The regional head of UNEP stated that this agency is producing a series of political guides for the governments of the region, with advice and suggestions so that they try to adjust their consumption and production trends towards a greener economy, by way of use technology that generates zero emissions.

One of these guides is that of opportunities to link post-COVID-19 recovery plans with integrated climate solutions, mainly through intensifying the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency; guarantee clean air and better health with electric mobility; and gradually reduce fossil fuel subsidies and tax emissions.

It also includes increasing the resilience of ecosystems, food and rural livelihoods; and get more resilient cities.

"I think we have to have a vision of what we want in the future: do we want cities with high levels of pollution, or not? Do we have technology that can reduce it? Yes, we have technology that can reduce it," said Heileman, Although he recognized that there is a component of the economy with old technologies "that does not want change and will have resistance."


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