Epidemic zoonoses and climate change: High time to tackle root causes and build adaptive capacities

In this policy brief, we argue that both epidemic zoonoses – diseases transmitted from animals to humans that can turn into pandemics such as COVID-19 – and climate change require a long-term preventive approach that tackles their root causes. This should reduce the number of future pandemics and extreme weather events and other related crises and prevent us from crossing dangerous tipping points. All levels of society (local, national, international) should be engaged in the approach and collaborate in an equitable fashion. As the negative effects of climate change are manifesting themselves more and more strongly and zoonotic epidemics can most likely not fully be eradicated, considerably more resources must also be spent on resilience building to seriously prepare societies, and vulnerable groups in particular, for future crises ahead of time. Changes in decision-making procedures and economic mechanisms can help overcome the bias towards the short-term present in modern political systems (“myopia”).