World Biodiversity Day
By Ifokwe Gift
The International Day for Biological Diversity (or World Biodiversity Day) held every 22nd of May, is a day sanctioned by the UN for the promotion of biodiversity. Aimed at increasing understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The International Day for Biological Diversity falls within the scope of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals. Biodiversity as a global concern is an issue that extends to –
- Sustainable agriculture
- Water and sanitation
- Health and sustainable development
- Science, technology and innovation
- Knowledge-sharing and capacity-building
- Urban resilience and adaptation; sustainable transport
- Climate change and disaster risk reduction
- Oceans and seas
- Vulnerable groups including indigenous peoples; and
- Food security.
The critical roles of biodiversity in sustainable development were recognized in Rio+20 outcome document, “The World We Want: A Future for All”.
What is Biodiversity?
Biological diversity is often understood in terms of the wide variety of plants, animals and microorganisms, but it also includes genetic differences within each species — for example, between varieties of crops and breeds of livestock — and the variety of ecosystems (lakes, forest, deserts, agricultural landscapes) that host multiple kind of interactions among their members (humans, plants, animals). Biological diversity resources are the pillars upon which civilizations are built. Fish provides 20% of animal protein to about 3 billion people. Plants provide over 80% of the human diet, and about 80% of people living in rural areas in developing countries rely on traditional plant‐based medicines for basic healthcare.
Biodiversity loss is a loss for humanity. Loss of biodiversity threatens all, including our health. It has been proven that biodiversity loss could expand diseases transmitted from animals to humans (zoonosis). On the other hand, if we keep biodiversity intact, it offers excellent tools to fight against pandemics like those caused by coronaviruses, which is the current situation the world is facing.
Despite all our technological advances, humans are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy, and so on. The 2020 Theme “Our solutions are in nature” emphasizes hope, solidarity and the importance of working together at all levels to build a future of life in harmony with nature.
The theme covers three essential topics which include the importance of knowledge and science; awareness of the importance of biodiversity and a call to action.
Did you know?
· Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems will undermine progress towards 80% of the assessed targets of 8 Sustainable Development Goals.
· Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions.
· 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.
As we are called to re-examine our relationship with the nature, one thing remains certain; though there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to future generations, species populations are still being reduced by human activities significantly. We need to put in a lot more effort towards the sustenance of our environment, and other species habitats are around us. For together, we can thrive towards a balanced ecosystem. Hence, it was upon the importance of public education and awareness on biodiversity that the UN deemed it fit to recognize this day annually.