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Build Back Better in a post COVID-19 world: Reducing future wildlife-borne spillover of disease to humans

We need to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, to better understand the root causes of zoonotic diseases, in order to prevent future outbreaks and support a green recovery.

Approximately 70 percent of emerging infectious diseases today, and almost all recent pandemics, originate from animals and particularly wildlife (e.g. Ebola virus, Lassa virus, and human immunodeficiency virus). Emerging evidence indicates that such outbreaks of animal-borne diseases are on the rise, mostly due to environmental degradation and the intensification of livestock production and trade in livestock and wildlife.

Human-wildlife-livestock interactions are increasing as human populations expand, and urbanization and economic activities (such as wildlife trade, husbandry, agriculture, fishing, infrastructure development, mining and logging) encroach into wildlife habitats. This greater proximity enhances the probability of disease spillover from wildlife to humans, or wildlife to livestock to humans.

This policy brief provides decision-makers with a set of actionable recommendations that can be implemented to prevent future epidemics caused by the spillover of diseases from wildlife and wild meat. The recommendations are based on an associated White Paper, which assessed:


why spillover of disease from wildlife to humans occurs, and why these zoonotic disease outbreaks can spread and become epidemics and pandemics such as COVID-19;


what they can do to prevent, detect and respond to future spillover events, with a special focus on priority interventions at the human–wildlife–livestock interfaces.

It has been produced as part of the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme, which is an Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) initiative funded by the European Union.


The SWM Programme is being implemented by a dynamic consortium of four partners with expertise in wildlife conservation and food security:

• Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

• Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

• French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD)

• Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

For more information, please visit the SWM Programme website: www.swm-programme.info

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