Update from the Renew Our World team
As Christian organisations working in the fields of development, justice and creation care, we call for a fundamental rethink regarding humanity’s relationship with nature in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that God has created an interdependent world within which humans have a responsibility to use the gifts and resources contained in the natural world wisely, cautiously and sustainably. We acknowledge that this has rarely been the case, and mourn both the rapid loss of biodiversity worldwide, and the consequent problems for human health and livelihoods. We endorse and echo the words of Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Acting Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity: “The continuing loss of biodiversity on a global scale represents both direct and indirect threats to our health and wellbeing. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem change, including through land use change, habitat fragmentation and loss, and climate change, can increase the risk of disease emergence and spread among people, animals and other living species.”
In particular, we note that both the destruction and fragmentation of natural habitats, and also unsustainable, often unregulated, and frequently illegal use of wildlife and wildlife products contributes to the disruption of ecosystems and the likelihood of pathogens transferring to humanity from wild animals. We recognise that many human societies, including some indigenous and traditional peoples, depend on wildlife products for food and medicine, and we call for full implementation of national and international laws against the illegal wildlife trade, and better regulation of legal wildlife commerce, for the good of human health and for nature’s flourishing. Alongside this, we urge Christian communities worldwide to teach the inherent value of all creatures to God and to encourage virtues of compassion, caution and care in relation to the human use of nature and its constituent parts.