Sept. 13, 2021

FIVM Series presents: COVID-19, novel zoonotic-origin pathogens and pandemics

The role of conservation organizations
Dr. Chris Walzer

Dr. Chris Walzer

From the most remote terrestrial wilderness to the deepest ocean, to the most densely populated cities, our planet is inexorably changing; experiencing fundamental and profoundly harmful species loss, habitat and soil degradation, pollution, wholesale destruction of forests and coral reefs, illegal and unsustainable exploitation of wild species, and proliferation of invasive species. These changes are exacerbated by the global climate crisis. Among other impacts, this has led to an escalation of health crises including zoonotic disease—those that are passed between animals and humans.

On Friday, September 17, Dr. Chris Walzer will discuss the role of conservation organizations in novel zoonotic-origin pathogens and pandemics. Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, and amplification of non-infectious diseases, threaten not only humans but also the animal and plant biodiversity that forms the crucial infrastructure of life on our planet. Dr. Walzer will explore how food supplies, economies, social cohesion, and global security are all vulnerable to the rising health threat.  And how outbreaks and the international spread of infectious diseases impacting people, animals, and plants remind us of a basic fact: human, animal, plant, and environmental health and well-being are all connected (One Health concept), and profoundly influenced by human activities.

Dr. Chris Walzer is the Executive Director of Health at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. He is a board-certified wildlife veterinarian, tenured professor of Conservation Medicine at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria. Author of more than 100 peer-reviewed research publications and numerous book chapters, lecturing widely on health and conservation. Dr. Walzer has an internationally recognized diverse One Health expertise, working with wildlife, on the human-livestock-wildlife interfaces, gained from combined years of leadership and research in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

His work has recently focused on the nexus of emerging zoonotic-origin pathogens environmental encroachment and the commercial wildlife trade. Dr. Walzer is the recipient of several research and service awards most notably the Distinguished Environmentalist Award from the Mongolian Ministry of Nature and Environment for contributions to the conservation of Mongolia's rare and endangered species.