Diversity regained: Precautionary approaches to COVID-19 as a phenomenon of the total environment

Science of the Total Environment 825:154029 (2022)
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As COVID-19 emerged as a phenomenon of the total environment, and despite the intertwined and complex relationships that make humanity an organic part of the Bio- and Geospheres, the majority of our responses to it have been corrective in character, with few or no consideration for unintended consequences which bring about further vulnerability to unanticipated global events. Tackling COVID-19 entails a systemic and precautionary approach to human-nature relations, which we frame as regaining diversity in the Geo-, Bio-, and Anthropospheres. Its implementation requires nothing short of an overhaul in the way we interact with and build knowledge from natural and social environments. Hence, we discuss the urgency of shifting from current to precautionary approaches to COVID-19 and look, through the lens of diversity, at the anticipated benefits in four systems crucially affecting and affected by the pandemic: health, land, knowledge and innovation. Our reflections offer a glimpse of the sort of changes needed, from pursuing planetary health and creating more harmonious forms of land use to providing a multi-level platform for other ways of knowing/understanding and turning innovation into a source of global public goods. These exemplary initiatives introduce and solidify systemic thinking in policymaking and move priorities from reaction-based strategies to precautionary frameworks

Author Profiles

Luana Poliseli
Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research


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