Giving Compass' Take:

• Experts at Brookings answer questions about coronavirus and its future impact on the environment, offering advice for funders to remain effective in responding to both health and environmental crises.

• The article reminds readers that public health and the environment can go hand-in-hand. How can we learn from the pandemic's impact on the environment to improve sustainability in the future? 

• Learn more about how you can direct your coronavirus funding for the most effective impact.

Question: Do you think people’s behavior will change as a result of the current pandemic in ways that positively or negatively impact the environment?

Answer from Pablo Vieira: People will learn a lot from this experience, and it will demonstrate different ways in which behavioral changes can have a positive impact on the environment. People have been forced to master the art of meeting virtually, and ideally this will result in reduced travel and more working from home, which will have a permanent, positive impact.  People are also temporarily experiencing cleaner air and water. Even though this is not the result of advancing clean solutions, it will at least show people how much their quality of life improves with clean air and water. People have also learned to live with a lot less, and hopefully this will result in a permanent reduction in the level of consumption.

Question: Donors seem to be redirecting funds for climate to health. How can funders leverage the learning emerging from the COVID-19 crisis to inform enhanced resilience?

Answer from Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven: Many experts see a considerable risk that funds may be redirected from climate to health. However, we should not look at this as a zero-sum game. And it is of highest urgency that we save lives and livelihoods now — this must be an imperative for the international community.

In addition, there is a growing awareness that health issues and climate change are in many ways strongly interlinked. The loss of biodiversity is a multiplier for health crises — the current health crisis being a stark reminder of that. The health and climate communities do not need to compete for resources, but should rather join forces.

Read the full article about coronavirus' impact on the environment by Pablo Vieira, Stephane Hallegatte, Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, and Todd Stern at Brookings.