Hitomi Kimura

The Arctic Region faces higher risks of infectious viruses contained under the melting permafrost or deep ocean sediments due to the faster temperature rise. These infectious viruses might be transmitted by the surrounding animals, such as reindeer and seals, as hosts or vectors to the Arctic Indigenous Peoples, who are involved in livelihoods dependent on ecosystems such as hunting, fishing and livestock farming, and live in remote areas and have limited access to the health system. For better handling of climate-sensitive zoonotic diseases, more comprehensive support is crucial by the Arctic Council or relevant sovereign countries. It is necessary to identify and monitor areas of high risk, such as old burial sites or virus research institutes, and strengthen the monitoring of animal trading around Indigenous Peoples. Other actions include effective management of the Arctic tundra and wetlands through more systematic participation or involvement of Indigenous Peoples with their traditional ecological lifestyle and knowledge to live in harmony with nature, and resiliency efforts to recover from the pandemic in a formal decision-making process to develop adaptation plans. Wider recognition and application of WHO’s One Health approach, Human Rights- Based Approach to climate change such as right to health or right to a clean environment, or Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are also effective in collaboration with health-related organizations. In addition, more holistic and multifaceted approaches are necessary by combining all the indirect, but relevant aspects of international environmental law such as the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the CITES, the Ramsar Convention, and relevant domestic laws.

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