NEW YORK, JULY 17, 2023 – The Wildlife Conservation Society issued the following comments in response to the new European Parliament resolution on COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned and Recommendations for the Future.

This new resolution was adopted by the European Parliament in a Plenary session on 12 July 2023 and sets out a roadmap to better prevent, prepare, and respond to future health crises, including pandemics of zoonotic origin.

Said Dr. Susan Lieberman, WCS Vice President, International Policy:

“WCS welcomes the adoption of the new European Parliament resolution, which demonstrates the Parliament’s keen understanding of our complex and interconnected world, building on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“WCS looks forward to sharing our expertise and working together with the European Parliament, European Commission, and EU Member States to build on this leadership and take all necessary actions to prevent the next pandemic of zoonotic origin.

“The conservation of healthy, high integrity ecosystems is critical for addressing the triple environmental crises of biodiversity collapse, climate change, and the emergence of pandemics of zoonotic origin. Avoiding ecosystem degradation reduces the overall risk of pathogen spillovers and zoonotic disease outbreaks and serves as an effective mechanism to prevent future epidemics and pandemics.

“We welcome the Parliament’s call for the EU and its Member States to guarantee the inclusion of pandemic prevention in the WHO pandemic instrument that is currently being negotiated, and to ensure that civil society experts and scientists are actively engaged in these negotiations.”

Said Dr. Chris Walzer, Executive Director of Health, WCS:

“The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as previous disease outbreaks of animal origin such as SARS and Ebola, and their catastrophic social and economic consequences highlight the critical significance of applying a One Health approach across sectors, as a matter of urgency.

“We welcome the EU resolution's recognition that pandemics of zoonotic origin are directly related to the increased human-wildlife interfaces caused by land-use change, in particular the loss of ecosystem integrity, especially deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of urban markets trading in live wild birds and mammals.

“The report also highlights that the single most effective and cost-efficient way to prevent pandemics of zoonotic origin is to avoid pathogen spillovers between humans, wildlife and other animals in the first place, and therefore recommends that the One Health approach be implemented through public policies, legislation and research, with the engagement of multiple sectors.

“We welcome the strong emphasis on the need for collaborative surveillance plans on emerging health threats, including coordinated and systematic data collection, operational and behavioral research, and to carry out risk assessments on the drivers, processes and pathways for the emergence, spread and persistence of zoonotic diseases.”

Said Arnaud Goessens, Associate Director, EU Policy, WCS EU Office:

"The EU has committed to doubling its financing for biodiversity, and together with the new Team Europe approaches on One Health, there is now an opportunity for the EU to take an integrated approach to health and support preventative actions at source that significantly reduce the risks of future pandemics.

“We strongly support the European Parliament’s call for the EU and the Member States to support and assist the global community in protecting high integrity ecosystems and ending the commercial trade in wildlife for human consumption and stand ready to provide support.”