Since World War two, countries have established international regimes to regulate the cross-border flows of goods, capital, people, and pollutants. While this governance approach targeting specific problems has merit, it causes a “silo” problem, whereby different regimes with overlapping objectives do not collaborate, and sometimes even work at cross purposes.
The coronavirus pandemic reveals the problems of “siloization” of climate change and public health in global governance. Both issues are governed by different regimes, with different international bodies to manage them, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease that is linked to deforestation, wildlife trade, and unregulated wet markets. Forest protection is important for both climate change and public health. From a public health perspective, the destruction of forest habitats, which puts humans in close contact with wildlife, can increase zoonotic diseases. From the climate perspective, habitat and forest protection are crucial for carbon sequestration and adaptation.COVID-19 is a wake-up call to overcome siloization of climate and health regimes. We propose a new multi-stakeholder partnership jointly managed by the UNFCCC and the WHO to protect forests and critical habitats to address both climate change and zoonotic disease outbreaks. Other organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, which are involved in forestry issues, could be involved as well.