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Connecting the dots

10 May, 2024

A new report published in The Lancet Planetary Health has found that intergovernmental panels are failing to consider the interactions between climate, biodiversity and infectious disease, and that failure to address these global connections is a major contributor to our failure to stay on track with global targets like the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). In our journey towards a sustainable future, it’s often the case that individual issues are tackled in isolation, due to the complexity of each challenge. However, the report emphasizes the need to move beyond siloed approaches and address the complex web of challenges facing our planet.

From climate change and biodiversity loss to spread of disease and social inequalities, these issues are deeply intertwined. The Lancet report emphasises that by failing to consider the interactions between climate, biodiversity and infectious disease we are failing to fully address the key issues affecting each. This is demonstrated in a recent study that did consider all three issues, and found that biodiversity loss is the biggest driver of infectious disease outbreaks, followed by climate change. By embracing the interconnectedness of these challenges, we can navigate the complexity of sustainability issues more effectively, by allowing us to identify leverage points, anticipate unintended consequences, and develop holistic solutions that address root causes rather than symptoms.

However, combining strategies for action can be challenging. While it’s crucial to understand the interconnected nature of these challenges, it’s equally important to consider each aspect individually. Embracing a systems thinking approach requires careful consideration and collaboration across sectors and disciplines. We must recognize the unique dynamics of each issue while acknowledging their collective impact, both at a policy level but also in terms of business response. Let’s commit to seeing the bigger picture and working together towards a more sustainable world.

By Lucy Bell

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