Biodiversity excellent tools to fight against pandemics like Covid-19

Science City celebrated bio diversity day through webinar 

Biodiversity excellent tools to fight against pandemics like Covid-19

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Kapurthala: To mark International Biodiversity Day, Pushpa Gujaral Science City today organized a Webinar to create public awareness on the significance of biological diversity and nature, especially during the present COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The Webinar was focused on the theme ‘Our Solution are in Nature’. Director General, Pushpa Gujaral Science City, Dr. Neelima Jerath, who was also Founder Member Secretary of Punjab Biodiversity Board for 10 years, welcomed the speakers and pointed out that biodiversity was a global asset of tremendous value, which had not only ensured the stability of our ecosystems and food security, but had also directed trade and commerce in the past. However, man’s actions were leading to destruction of habitats and loss of many species, the potential of which was yet to be realized. She mentioned that the Covid Pandemic has brought this into focus and the year 2020 was a time to realize the importance of living in harmony with nature, reflect upon our actions and look for opportunities to find solutions to issues of our concern in nature.
Principal Secretary, Science, Tech. & Environment, GoP, Mr. Alok Shekhar, in his special message said that the current year theme of IBD emphasizes hope, solidarity and the importance of working together to build a life which is in harmony with nature. If biodiversity is kept intact, it will offer excellent tools to fight against pandemics like COVID-19. He appreciated Science City’s efforts to raise public education and awareness on this issue, in view of its importance to the society.
Shri Sujit Kumar Bajpayee, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Env., Forest and Climate Change, in his message, said that preservation of biodiversity was the only answer to many challenges which were being faced by humanity globally, despite of all the technological advancements achieved so far. It was high time to recognize the significance of biodiversity in our daily requirements of food, medicines, livelihoods and ecosystem services. 
Underlining that life cannot be separated from nature, Dr. VB Mathur, Chairman National Biodiversity Authority pointed out that the current year theme signifies that people are part of nature and it is our bounden duty to preserve  biological diversity. Ancient philosophy has been focusing on the earth as our ‘mother’ and all of us should pledge to protect itto live a bountiful and happy life. He urged that we needed to learn from the COVID-19 crisis that disturbing nature could have an ecological backlash.   
Head of Biodiversity, United Nations Development Program, Ms. Ruchi Pant, in her recorded message, advised to abstain from injudicious use and over exploitation of natural resources and reaffirm our commitment towards conservation in the context of COVID-19 pandemic, which had shaken the entire world.
A well known Biodiversity Expert and former UNESCO Specialist, Dr. Ram Boojh, in his talk mentioned that Covid-19 was a reminder that the human health is linked to the planet’s health. He elaborated that 60% of known and 70% of emerging infectious diseases occur every year due to zoonoses causing one-billon illnesses and millions of deaths and advised that 2020 was an year to ‘build back better’ by increasing resilience.
An expert of international repute, Dr. P.S. Roy, Advisor, International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics & Former Director, IIRS, ISRO, spoke on climate change impacts on diseases and pandemics. He said that Covid pandemic was a lesson for ensuring better preparedness for climate change impacts in future and pointed out that doctors were already expecting rise in incidence of out breaks of Vector borne diseases and illness and deaths from heat waves, cyclones, storms, flooding, etc due to global climate change.
Mr Jatinder Sharma, PCCF and former Joint Secretary, Min. of Ayush, Govt. of India, pointed out that Biodiversity was a gold mine of medicines and many rural and tribal societies depended on their traditional knowledge for natural immunity enhancement and health cure.
Dr. A K Gupta, Dean, Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions and former PCCF, Tripura Biodiversity Board, based on his work with fringe forest dwellers for promoting Sustainable Livelihoods, spoke on promoting management of biodiversity by local communities through inclusive and responsive policies on conservation& sustainable utilization.
Along with the Webinar Science City is also organizing on-line Photography and Story writing Competitions for children and general public and will publish an e-book of stories out of the selected entries. The names of Award winners will be declared on World Environment Day.