Researchers Advise Countries To Tackle Three Environmental Crises

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World Health Organization (WHO)

By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos

Global Recovery Observatory researchers have called on countries to seize the opportunity of Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic recovery investment “to accelerate action on three crises facing humanity: climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.”
The researchers made the call in their report launched on 10th March 2021.
The study is part of Oxford University Economic Recovery Project which was supported by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and GIZ.
In a news statement titled: “Green Shoots: Are COVID-19 Recovery Funds Helping the Environment?” UNEP elaborated on the findings of the Global Recovery Observatory.
“In the last year, governments have pledged trillions of dollars in COVID-19 relief, creating what some observers have called a once-in-a-generation chance to make planet-friendly investments—and save the Earth from a looming environmental catastrophe,” UNEP said.
Noting that the path to a green recovery will not be easy, UNEP pointed out that according to the report only 2.5 per cent of all COVID-19 recovery spending will have “positive green characteristics,” like reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting natural capital.
“The Observatory is tracking the fiscal rescue and recovery spending of the world’s fifty largest economies, to pin down the level of green spending built into rescue and recovery plans,” the UN environmental agency clarified.
“This is part of the broader Oxford University Economic Recovery Project, supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Monetary Fund, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ),” it added.
The researchers studied funds announced for both short-term “rescue” and long-term recovery, and found that green spending is concentrated in wealthier countries and populations, threatening to reinforce dangerous pre-pandemic inequities, UNEP narrated.
“Pandemic recovery packages are a massive opportunity to accelerate action on the three crises facing humanity: climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution,” Steven Stone, Chief of Resources and Markets at UNEP, said. “We must seize it or we risk scarring, saddling future generations with massive debt and a broken planet.”
The researchers were disappointed that “despite the severity of air pollution, which causes up to 9 million deaths annually, only 16 per cent of total recovery spending (excluding the European Commission) is deemed to potentially reduce air pollution.”
When it comes to preserving natural capital—or the global stock of natural resources— and reversing ecosystem degradation, “only 3 per cent of recovery spending is deemed positive,” the report observed.

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