International Day for Biological Diversity: Protecting and Maintaining Our Biodiversity

International Day for Biological Diversity: Protecting and Maintaining Our Biodiversity

Our planet has very rich biodiversity - from animals to plants, microorganisms, and the different ecosystems / Photo by: Gligan via Wikimedia Commons

 

Our planet has very rich biodiversity - from animals to plants, microorganisms, and the different ecosystems. The variety of life on Earth has helped humans in a number of ways. In fact, most of our livelihoods and lifestyles depend on other species. The Global Issues website reported that 80% of the needs of the poor and 40% of the world's economy came from our biological resources. 

It is important that humans maintain healthy biodiversity mainly because it provides a number of natural services that are beneficial to us. It protects water resources, ensures soil formation and protection, and contributes to climate stability. Biodiversity also provides us with food, medicinal resources and pharmaceutical drugs, breeding stocks, and many more. However, human activities have heavily destroyed our natural resources. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment reported that there has been a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth for the past decades. 

Our planet also faces major challenges, primarily climate change and global warming. Thus, it is important that as early as now, we should address these issues. One of the global efforts to raise awareness of the challenges our biodiversity is facing is the International Day of Biological Diversity. This event aims to increase people's understanding and awareness for biodiversity issues. This also emphasizes the possible strategies or actions that we can pursue to protect biodiversity. 

History of the International Day of Biological Diversity

Although we have been taught that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations, millions of species in different ecosystems have been significantly decreasing due to human activities. Fortunately, a lot of organizations and institutions are making their own global efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our biodiversity. In fact, the International Day of Biological Diversity was a product of an agreement between state and government leaders. 

According to an article by Time and Date, state and government leaders in 1992 gathered at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as "The Earth Summit." They discussed how they could forward sustainable development, a way to meet the needs of people all over the world. They also wanted to ensure that our planet would remain viable and healthy for future generations. One of the most significant agreements they had during the gathering was to create the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The International Day for Biological Diversity started in 1992 when world leaders gathered at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as "The Earth Summit" / Photo by: International Maritime Organization via Flickr

 

Established on December 29, 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity eventually initiated the International Day for Biological Diversity. It is celebrated on May 22 every year -- a day that commemorates the adoption of the convention. This event also honors the first 168 countries that signed the Convention on Biological Diversity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The global event has several focal areas such as to protect biodiversity, address threats to biodiversity, promote sustainable use, maintain ecosystem integrity, ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits, and many more. 

2019 Theme: "Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health"

Without biodiversity, humans might not have survived as long as they have. However, an article by Egypt Today stated that the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) recently reported that our ecosystem is continuously decreasing around the world at rates unprecedented in human history. It has also been reported that there's an increase in the rate of species extinctions, greatly affecting all of us. 

Indeed, the International Day for Biological Diversity is a great way to educate people and strengthen the efforts to protect our biodiversity. Every year, the event focuses on a particular theme. For the past years, the themes have been: Biodiversity and Poverty Alleviation in 2003, Biodiversity: Food, Water and Health for All in 2004, Protect Biodiversity in Drylands in 2006, Biodiversity and Climate Change in 2007, Biodiversity and Agriculture in 2008, and so on. 

One article in Egypt Today reported that our ecosystem is continuously decreasing around the world at rates unprecedented in human history / Photo by: Trusharm512 via Wikimedia Commons

 

This year, the event's theme is "Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health" which focuses on biodiversity as the foundation for our food and health. At the same time, biodiversity is a key catalyst in improving human health and transforming food systems. According to an article by the United Nations, this aims to spread awareness and increase our knowledge of the dependency of our food systems, nutrition, and health on biodiversity. Additionally, it highlights the importance of the diversity provided by our natural resources not only to humans but also to all species on our planet. 

Moreover, the theme also shows how our natural systems significantly contribute to our environments such as ecosystems restoration, climate change mitigation and adaptation, cleaner water, zero hunger, and many more. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres once said, "Biological diversity is vital for human health and well-being. I urge all -- governments, businesses, and civil society -- to take urgent action to protect and sustainably manage the fragile and vital web of life on our one and only planet."