Statement - The COVID-19 Challenge: Zoonotic Diseases and Wildlife

Bonn, 16 October 2020 – COVID-19 falls into the category of emerging infectious diseases that are transmitted between domestic or wild animals and humans (known as ‘zoonotic diseases’). Emerging infectious diseases can significantly impact global economies and public health. More than 60 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases events are dominated by zoonoses, the majority of these originate in wildlife and are increasing significantly over time.

The far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 on the entire planet have mobilized numerous calls to prevent similar pandemics in the future. Appeals have ranged from advocacy for the permanent closure of markets where wild animals may be sold, to banning all commercial use of wildlife, to significantly stepping up sanitary measures and monitoring along all food value chains.

The Members of the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management (CPW) propose four guiding principles to assist practitioners and decision-makers in making practical and scientifically informed responses. These principles aim to reduce the risk of future pandemics originating from wild animals, at the same time as strengthening the conservation of wildlife whilst respecting livelihoods, food security and culture of diverse groups of people.



The four principles are:

First principle: recognize the importance of the use of wildlife for many communities, including Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), in policy responses.
Second principle: maintain and restore healthy and resilient ecosystems to reduce risks of zoonotic spillovers and future pandemics.
Third principle: persecution including killing of wild animals suspected of transmitting diseases will not address the causes of the emergence or spread of zoonotic diseases.
Fourth principle: regulate, manage and monitor harvesting, trade and use of wildlife to ensure it is safe, sustainable and legal.


The CPW comprises an experienced group of international organizations that have a shared interest in a pragmatic, science-based approach for developing, monitoring ad guiding joint initiatives for the sustainable, legal and safe use of wildlife and conservation of biodiversity. The current members are:

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Secretariat
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC)
  • International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB)
  • International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
  • International Trade Centre (ITC)
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)
  • TRAFFIC – The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

To learn more about the CPW, see the dedicated website maintained by the FAO.

For more information please contact:

Maria Jose Ortiz, Coordinator of the Information, Communications and Knowledge Management Unit, CMS and AEWA Secretariats. Email: [email protected] 

Last updated on 29 October 2020