International Day for Biological Diversity

International Day for Biological Diversity2015 Theme: Biodiversity for Sustainable Development. This year’s theme reflects the importance of efforts made at all levels to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda for the period of 2015-2030 and the relevance of biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development.

Humanity’s fate is tightly linked with biological diversity – the variety of life on earth. Biodiversity is essential for sustainable development and human well-being. It is crucial to the reduction of poverty, due to the basic goods and ecosystem services it provides.

More than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity, while over 1.6 billion people rely on forests and non-timber forest products for their livelihoods. Habitat degradation and the loss of biodiversity are threatening the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people living in dry and sub-humid lands. Strategies to protect biodiversity must therefore be developed for achieving poverty reduction and sustainable development.

The United Nations General Assembly, by its resolution 55/201 of 20 December 2000, proclaimed 22 May as The International Day for Biological Diversity, to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The date designated for the day was chosen to commemorate the adoption of the text of the Convention on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act of the Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The day was first created by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly in late 1993, and the UN General Assembly, by its resolution 49/119 of 19 December 1994, designated December 29th (the date of entry into force of the Convention of Biological Diversity) the International Day for Biological Diversity. However, it was difficult for many countries to plan and carry out suitable celebrations for the date of 29 December, given the number of holidays that coincide around that time of year.

Secretary-General’s Message for 2015:

The variety of life on Earth is essential for the welfare of current and future generations.  The conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biological diversity can help solve a range of societal challenges.  

Protecting ecosystems and ensuring access to ecosystem services by poor and vulnerable groups are essential to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.  Reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, drylands, rangelands and croplands generate significant social and economic benefits and are cost-effective ways to mitigate climate change.

Any sustainable development framework must provide the enabling conditions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, for more equitable sharing of benefits, and for reducing the drivers of biodiversity loss.  The sustainable development goals and the broader post-2015 development agenda, which are under negotiation now, provide an opportunity to mainstream biodiversity and promote transformational change in how economies and societies use and regard biodiversity.

The globally adopted Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets provide a useful model that Member States can use in considering how to implement the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.  Meeting the Aichi Targets and addressing biodiversity loss more generally would contribute significantly to the post-2015 development agenda.  

On this International Day for Biological Diversity, let us recommit to global action to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, for people and for our planet.

Source