International Day for Biological Diversity
A Day for Celebration… and Action
Biodiversity, the vast, rich and wondrous variety of life on Earth, is all around us. It touches every part of our lives. It enriches our minds, nourishes and heals our bodies, soothes our spirits. It clothes and houses our families. It connects us and fosters the business and commerce that employs us.
The United Nations proclaimed today, May 22, as the International Day for Biological Diversity in an effort to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. It is commemorated annually, but it has special significance this year, because the United Nations declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.
Today is a great day to get out and enjoy the natural world that surrounds us – the plants, trees, birds and bugs, and the ecosystems they call home. It is a day to embrace our true connectedness to the vast web of life all around, of which we are all a part. It is a day to recognize and celebrate the many life-giving and life-improving benefits that are the direct product and result of biodiversity.
But amidst all that celebration and enjoyment, we must acknowledge a difficult reality – that species of plants and animals are going extinct at a faster rate than at any time since dinosaurs roamed the Earth – and that the world has been unsuccessful in meeting globally agreed upon targets to stem biodiversity loss by this year. Experts warn that we are approaching a number of “tipping points” after which the damage to our ecosystems, our communities and our way of life could be irreversible.
But there is still time, if we act now. The challenge is great and it will take concerted action by governments around the world, spurred on by their concerned and engaged citizens. But preserving biodiversity is absolutely achievable. As the world’s largest funder of projects to preserve biodiversity, we at the Global Environment Facility have a unique vantage point and a vested interest in making this happen.
We believe that the first step is creating awareness – ensuring that everyone, from farmers to physicians, from lawyers to laborers, from students to seniors, realizes what biodiversity truly means to us, and how central it is to life on the planet we all share. As awareness is raised, citizens will demand that their elected leaders make the long-term, forward-thinking decisions and investments that are required to preserve biodiversity. So, on this special and beautiful day, go out and embrace your part in the web of life. And then let your voice be heard as we work together to protect it.