A pangolin, on the other side of the planet. This is undoubtedly the source of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused the confinement of more than two billion human beings on Earth. A poached animal whose natural environment has been destroyed over the years as a result of human activities, has become the reservoir of a coronavirus, the spread of which has brought the global economy to an abrupt halt. A health crisis which underlines the closeness of the links between economy and ecology, which reminds us of the existence of interconnections between nature and what our society produces. This, in turn, must oblige us to take into account its protection, especially at the corporate level. It is indeed high time that biodiversity came to our factories …
Biodiversity is eroding and infectious diseases are increasing
Today there are approximately 2,000 infectious and parasitic diseases affecting humans. For 60% of them, their origin is animal. A high proportion, especially when analyzing the most recent emerging diseases. This is explained by the pressure that humanity exerts on ecosystems. Global population growth directly affects the environment, for example when forests are destroyed for agriculture or mining.
Concerning Covid-19, the virus is said to come from pangolin, which is massively poached in China. Animals sold alive, stressed, which increases the excretion of more pathogens. This hunt decimates the pangolin populations and would cause a “genetic bottleneck”. Fewer individuals harbor a narrower variety of viruses, which statistically increases the likelihood of harboring increasingly virulent pathogens. Precedents exist, such as Lassa hemorrhagic fever, described for the first time in 1969 and which is still raging in Africa. In this region, refugees had fled war zones – Sierra Leone and Liberia – to reach Guinea. To feed, they deforested and hunted a particular rat, “Mastomys natalensis”. The decrease in this population of rats has led to the selection of highly pathogenic forms of the Lassa virus, which has circulated massively in this rat and contaminated hunters. A now endemic disease, which kills around 5,000 people each year in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
Include biodiversity in corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Issues that may seem far removed from French economic players. However, in a very largely globalized economy, where raw materials and manufactured products cross continents, French companies have a direct impact on global biodiversity. And can in fact limit its destruction, as pointed out by the CSR platform in a recent opinion.
A collective report which highlights the need for support from the State to encourage business engagement, by proposing common indicators of impacts on biodiversity. The CSR platform also calls on companies to integrate biodiversity issues more strongly into their strategy, by committing to the highest level and by analyzing the impact of their activities on the main factors eroding biodiversity. But also by better integrating biodiversity into extra-financial reporting and by implementing ambitious policies to combat imported deforestation. Finally, for investors and rating agencies, the platform calls for better taking into account the issues relating to biodiversity in their extra-financial analyzes and better communicating on their expectations.
The erosion of biodiversity and the destruction of ecosystems is having an impact on our daily lives, as the current pandemic reminds us. Faced with this health crisis, each of us has a part of the solutions to think of a more sustainable and resilient world. Including businesses, faced with the destruction of the diversity of life. An immediate challenge.