COVID-19 should be seen as a wake-up call to the importance of proper natural resource management. Unfortunately, reports are increasingly common that mismanagement of resources is occurring instead as countries and communities react to the virus. Tourism, food, and agriculture sectors have also been significantly impacted by COVID-19 due to lockdowns, social distancing measures, and travel and trade disruptions.
As a result, people—especially in the Indo-Pacific region—could return to being increasingly reliant on wildlife, agricultural expansion, logging, and fishing to ensure food security, in many cases in an unsustainable or illicit manner. COVID-19 is currently one of the most prominent threats to the region’s environmental security. These vulnerabilities will also likely provide opportunities for China to gain a greater foothold in the region and establish control of valuable natural resources. Although these issues are not new, they are among those most exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.