UNU-IAS researcher Evonne Yiu delivered a keynote speech as part of a webinar for World Environment Day on 5 June 2020, centred around the theme of COVID-19 Effects on Biodiversity: Science Education Reimagined. Focusing on the topic “Biodiversity for One Health: Making Transformative Change through Education”, her presentation explained that as biodiversity is the basis of the human health and sustainability of our planet, the loss of biodiversity will inevitably threaten human health, including increasing the risk of epidemic and pandemic emergence.
The webinar was organised by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Secretariat and UNESCO, with around 3,800 participants from across Southeast Asia and the world joining the live telecast. A video recording is available to view online here.
Dr. Yiu emphasised the ‘One Health Approach’, which recognises that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and our shared environment. She also focused on the need for transformative change through education, working with local communities and promoting lifelong learning to halt biodiversity loss. Dr Yiu stressed that the COVID-19 situation can provide opportunities to build back better for people and the planet, and for that a new way of thinking, learning, and working is needed.
The webinar also featured an informative panel session by experts from Southeast Asia sharing on-the-ground initiatives, including innovative sustainable agricultural practices and education institution’s initiatives on biodiversity from an Education for Sustainable Development perspective in Philippines, and the application of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education through conservation biology in Thailand.