The following statement is by Dr. Susan Lieberman, WCS Vice President of International Policy, addressing the 4th meeting of the International Negotiating Body (INB) of the World Health Organization (WHO), which is in the process of drafting and negotiating a convention, agreement, or instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

"WCS, the Wildlife Conservation Society, is an international NGO that has been working across the globe for more than 125 years on the conservation of wildlife and wild places. We are the only international conservation organization with an embedded wildlife health program, working on the ground in more than 60 countries across Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas in partnership with governments, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and other stakeholders on science-based conservation efforts.

"We support efforts to equitably prepare for and respond to pandemics—but it is far more cost effective and equitable to prioritize prevention at source. We must protect present and future generations from pandemics and their devastating consequences by preventing the spillover of pathogens from wildlife to humans or other animals from happening in the first place.

"Our key message to you today is the critical need to prioritize prevention at source in the WHO CA+. We appreciate the interventions by France on behalf of the Group of Friends of One Health and other stakeholders in support of prevention at source. The science is clear—we must deal directly with the human/animal interface, particularly human actions that increase those interfaces, such as deforestation and forest degradation, commercial wildlife trade, wildlife farms, and live wildlife markets.

"We strongly urge you to include text in the WHO CA+ that Parties should identify and prioritize both land use change and wildlife markets, farms, and trade chains. It is vital that the accord include commitments to address the drivers of the emergence and re-emergence of pathogens and disease at the human-animal-environment interfaces.

"WCS is ready to assist in any way, and to share our extensive scientific and technical expertise and experience on the conservation of wildlife and ecosystems, wildlife health, and the human/livestock/wildlife interface.

"We owe it to future generations, and all of those who suffered due to COVID-19, to ensure that this landmark agreement prioritizes the prevention of pathogen spillovers and the prevention of epidemics and pandemics of zoonotic origin at their source."