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Library Supporting the Global Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Land-based Solutions for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet

Supporting the Global Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Land-based Solutions for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet

Supporting the Global Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Land-based Solutions for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet

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Date of publication
November 2020
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Land is the foundation for all life on Earth. How land is used and managed influences nature, food, water, energy, climate, and even our health. Today, the pressures on land and the wealth of resources it provides are greater than at any other time in human history. Nearly three quarters of the Earth’s ice-free land has been transformed from its natural state, mainly to meet the demand for food, raw materials and human settlement.1,2 Even more alarming is the accelerated pace of land conversion, in order to provide the food, animal feed, fiber, bioenergy and water needed to achieve all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over the past 50 years, industrial production, technological development and our changing consumption patterns have significantly altered all ecosystems, putting over 1 million species at risk. Since late 2019, the world has been struggling to contain an outbreak of a new zoonotic virus commonly called COVID-19, and the repercussions have been colossal. Beyond the devastating public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved into a complex emergency with significant humanitarian, socio-economic, political and security dimensions. It has laid bare the vulnerability of both our human and natural systems, which were already threatened by climate change. On the economic front, recession and the contraction of per capita income is taking place in more countries simultaneously than at any other point since 1870.12 The pandemic poses a real challenge to the global goal of ending poverty by 2030 (SDG 1)13 , which is now projected to increase for the first time since 1990.14 Poor, marginalized communities, without any support or safety net, are particularly vulnerable, and the number suffering from hunger could go from 135 million to more than 250 million people.15 The agricultural labor force is buckling under the strain of the lockdown response to the pandemic and almost 1.6 billion informal economy workers are significantly impacted.16 The resilience of global systems in most sectors has taken a tremendous hit, leading to dramatic swings in commodity markets and serious food supply chain disruptions,17 a sharp contraction in remittances—the largest source of foreign exchange earnings for emerging markets and developing countries,18 and even signs of reverse migration between countries and from urban back to rural areas.19The pandemic-driven economic crisis itself brings impacts on human health that extend beyond the pandemic itself. As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths grow, disruptions in other healthcare areas have been significant, particularly for the most vulnerable. The ripple effects of the lockdown have rebounded upon already beleaguered health care systems in ways that will affect many who may have already weathered the coronavirus storm. For example, the developing world could witness 1.4 million excess tuberculosis deaths by 202520 , while in sub-Saharan Africa over the next year, experts have predicted the possibility of 500,000 excess deaths due to AIDS-related illnesses21 and 325,000 excess malaria deaths.2 The Solution – Safeguarding people’s lives and their livelihoods, keeping the land in balance

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