The China Development Brief (CDB) Forum 2020 was held in Beijing on December 9, 2020 and focused on “Challenges and Responses for Cross-Border Philanthropy under COVID-19.” Leaders from NGOS and experts in relevant fields discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected organisations’ survival and development, grassroots-level struggles faced by communities, and the pursuit of social wellbeing. Below is an excerpt from an abridged compilation of statements shared by guests participating in Roundtable Discussion 1.
This excerpt concentrates on Chief Representative of the World Animal Protection Beijing Representative Office Zhao Zhonghua’s perspective. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it apparent how close environmental collapse is linked with the emergence of dangerous pathogens threatening global security. Indeed the pandemic has exposed problems of globalisation that transcend national boundaries and sentiments. While states are tasked with bolstering public power and businesses pursue profit, Zhao underscored the responsibility of NGOs to exercise morality in tackling critical problems facing our species and others.
Zhao Zhonghua: I am from the World Animal Protection. Animals include wild animals, farm animals and pets, all of which are our target groups. Following this pandemic, animal protection has been brought to the forefront, along with a mix of accurate and inaccurate information. As an international organisation for animal protection, we want to guide public opinion, disseminate scientific messages to society, and deliver authentic and objective information to the world in a way that transcends national boundaries and emotions, which constitutes are biggest challenge.
In 2000, the World Organisation for Animal Health put forward a theory about how our human health and animal health are closely related. Meanwhile, human and animal health are closely related to the entire natural environment. Therefore, human health, animal healthy and the natural environment are closely associated with each other. This theory did not receive much attention when it was proposed in early 2000. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred serious rethinking among society. Ms. Li Yan [from Greenpeace China] mentioned damage to both forest and natural environment will affect human health because we live in it.
In this pandemic, environmental protection organisations and animal protection organisations will be given extra focus while more demand will be placed on us, and this challenge is very huge. In such a special environment, animal protection organisations and NGOs are often caught in the middle, having to respond to public opinion and actors in various sectors. Philanthropy is about alleviating the suffering of others for the common good of humanity. We have a sociological principle, for example, that governments need to establish public power, businesses should aim at profit, and family organisations should be built on affectionate love. We NGOs have no public power and no money. What do we rely on? We rely on the power of morality, as we are fighting for the common good of the entire human race.
In international interactions, I believe international organisations should play the role of building bridges and links between countries and civilizations. So, we should be bold and confident, and not to be affected by the challenges of international situations; moreover, we should actively play the role of a bridge and a linkage. Therefore, everyone here is being engaged in a noble and great cause, and we must have the courage and confidence to believe we can move forward in the face of difficulties and challenges.