On International Day, UN highlights biodiversity's role in underpinning development

22 May 2016

Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it supports are the foundations for life on Earth and the livelihoods and well-being of people everywhere, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today on the International Day for Biological Diversity, as he urged the international community to preserve and sustainably manage the variety of life on the planet.

“Protecting biodiversity and preventing further losses is an essential investment in our collective future,” Mr. Ban said in his message marking the Day.

“On this International Day for Biodiversity, I urge all Governments and stakeholders to preserve and sustainably manage the variety of life on Earth for the benefit of current and future generations,” he added.

The Day is marked around the world every year on 22 May. This year's theme is 'Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and their Livelihoods.'

In his message, the Secretary-General highlighted that biodiversity is an important cross-cutting issue in the message marking the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In addition, he noted that Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 explicitly recognizes the importance of halting biodiversity loss, and other SDGs recognize the importance of biological diversity for eradicating poverty, providing food and fresh water, and improving life in cities.

“It is critical that we make progress in mainstreaming biodiversity and transforming how societies value and manage it,” the UN chief said.

Mr. Ban noted that despite numerous commitments, biodiversity loss continues to accelerate in all regions. Only 15 per cent of countries are on track to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets by the agreed-upon date of 2020.

In addition, he said that the anticipated expansion of sectors that both depend on and affect biodiversity – including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture – will pose a significant challenge to halting biodiversity loss in the coming decades.

Reversing these trends will require action by all sectors and stakeholders, from UN Member States and agencies to civil society, academia and business, the Secretary-General said.

“We need better research, and we need to act on the evidence that biodiversity is integral to achieving social and economic goals,” he stressed.

Mr. Ban also emphasized that the responsible use of natural resources is essential to sustainable development, as mainstreaming biodiversity will ensure that addressing development needs and protecting the environment are mutually supportive.

“Preserving biological diversity is a vital part of our compact with each other and the planet that nurtures us,” the Secretary-General concluded.

In his message on the Day, Achim Steiner, Executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said that while marvel at iconic species in other parts of the world and on our digital screens, such as elephants, tigers and pandas, many of us are much less familiar with the sheer magnitude of diversity of plants and animals on this planet or the habitats that support them.

“Awareness about our current global challenge of biodiversity loss is also low – a challenge that will expand along with the sectors affecting biodiversity, such as agriculture or forestry,” he said, stressing at the same time, that biodiversity provides us with the ecosystem services that are our

foundations for life, everywhere on this planet, from fishermen depending on coastal waters, to farmers depending on crops, to tropical communities depending on forests.

“We need to better integrate biodiversity into how we think and into everything that we do. And we all need to do more to prevent its loss,” the UNEP chief said, echoing the theme of this year's Day.

In another message on the Day, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Braulio F. de Souza Dias, stressed that addressing the indirect and direct drivers of biodiversity loss requires a focus on primary sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture.

“These sectors both impact biodiversity and are dependent on biodiversity,” he said. “The demand for the goods and services produced by these sectors is projected to increase over the coming decades as a result of population growth, increasing average wealth, and other demographic changes.”

He noted, for example, that demand for food, wood, water and energy is projected to increase 1.5 to two times by 2050 due to increasing population and average wealth, with a concomitant and negative effect on biodiversity.

Therefore, mainstreaming biodiversity considerations across these sectors is essential in ensuring

not only the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity but also the continued vitality of

these sectors, he said.

 

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