The International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May 2005

Message from the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan

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Message from the United Nations Environment Programme , Klaus Toepfer

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Ministerial Statements

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Background

The United Nations proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. When first created by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly in late 1993, 29 December (the date of entry into force of the Convention of Biological Diversity), was designated The International Day for Biological Diversity. In December 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted 22 May as IBD, 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. This was partly done because 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.

Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World

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Introduction

The United Nations has proclaimed May 22, the International Day for Biological Diversity, to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. Biodiversity is the source of the essential goods and ecological services that constitute the source of life for all. The celebration each year of the International Day for Biological Diversity is an occasion to reflect on our responsibility to safeguard this precious heritage for future generations.

As announced by Hamdallah Zedan, the Executive Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the theme for International Day for Biological Diversity 2005 is:

Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World.

The world is changing faster than ever before. Growing human populations and expanding consumption are placing great pressure on biological Diversity. This year’s theme for IBD reminds us that, in addition to providing the physical conditions for all life, biodiversity also plays an important role in protecting life and making it resilient to the pressures brought about by change.

Suggested activities for IBD 2005

There are many ways that the International Day for Biological Diversity can be celebrated. To assist Parties the Secretariat has prepared a short list of suggested events for celebrating the IBD. The activities may be carried out singly or in combination. In any event, ensure that the activities you seek to carry out are within your reach.

Parties are also invited to submit their ideas and suggestions for models to be included. Please note that while some of these activities require a national approach, many can and should be carried out by local communities and NGOs with encouragement and assistance from the National Focal Point.

  1. Organize a seminar and launch event on the Synthesis Report with the participation of some of the experts involved in its review. The format for this can follow that which the Secretariat is planning: Begin with a press conference in the morning, followed by a reception and an afternoon scientific seminar. The event features comments and speeches by representatives from the relevant ministries, by participants in the MA process, and by other relevant stakeholders. The MA reports drew upon the support of a broad group of scientists from around the world for their writing and review. In many cases, Parties will find that authors from their country were involved. A list of involved experts, sorted by countries is available for your review at http://www.millenniumassessment.org/en/AuthorContacts.ByCountry.aspx. The involvement of the artistic community adds an interesting dimension and a different viewpoint to the event. Should you be interested in organizing such an event, you may contact the secretariat to assist in providing resources for such an event including:
    • copies of the report
    • a statement by the Executive Secretary for use at your event
    • liaison with the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Secretariat regarding contact with authors who live in your region.
    Example: The Secretariat is organizing a launch event for the MA Ecosystem Assessment report that includes a press conference, a reception and afternoon seminars. The event will include the participation of the co-chair for the synthesis report, a member of the MA Board, executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan, and representatives of McGill University.
  2. Prepare articles to be published in national or local newspapers focusing on this year’s IBD theme and its relationship with the Synthesis Report. Promote special issues or supplements on Biodiversity in the local media. This may be easier to organize if associated with an announcement of a new programme or policy.
    Example: as part of the 2004 IBD celebrations in Oman, articles on the International Biodiversity Day were published in local newspapers (Oman's celebrations in 2004).
  3. Promote the participation of government officials and leading scientists in radio talk shows with the objective of targeting a broader audience and raising public awareness about the CBD and its objectives.
    Example: the Ghana’s co-ordinator for the celebration of International Biological Diversity Day arranged for the participation of members of the National Biodiversity Committee in radio talk shows in order to brief the public (Ghana's celebrations in 2004).
  4. Designate Biodiversity and the theme of “Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World” for adoption in natural history and science museums for the period surrounding May 22. Organize exhibits, lectures and presentations emphasizing the importance of Biodiversity to the surrounding region and accompanied by presentations and documents. If there is a national announcement on a Biodiversity or CBD-related topic, consider making the announcement in conjunction with an event at a science museum, exhibition or fair. Offer free access for the day, or special admission fees, to teachers, students and community groups.
    Example: one of the activities chosen by Iran to commemorate the 2004 International Biodiversity Day was the opening of a museum dedicated to the theme of biological diversity (“Biodiversity Museum of Iran”). Also, admission to national history museums on International Biodiversity Day was free of charge (Iran's celebrations in 2004).
  5. Offer free access for the day, or special admission fees, to national parks and other protected areas. Provide guided walks, animal spotting and/or bird watching activities.
    Example: the 2004 International Biodiversity Day celebrations in Scotland were marked by events and activities ranging from Nature Reserve open days and guided walks, scrub clearance and moth walks, exhibitions and talks, making bird boxes and animal tracking (Celebrations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2004).
  6. Designate the IBD theme at agricultural and plant conservation centres and botanic gardens, accompanied by special exhibits or special events.
  7. In cooperation with local or national media, organize contests in one or more categories, such as essay, photography, art, website and poster design, dance or drama. Co-operative ventures with media may also include on-line discussions or workshops for schools, community groups and/or the public to illustrate the IBD theme.
    Example: as part of the 2004 International Biological Diversity Day, Iran organized the first national Digital Photography Festival of Nature (Iran's celebrations in 2004).
  8. Organize biodiversity awareness presentations to schools and colleges by subject matter experts on the importance of Biodiversity, explaining the effects that biodiversity loss has on everyday life, and what individuals can do to help preserve the variety of life on earth. Present International Biodiversity Day posters to the classrooms, information material and/or a list of Biodiversity-related educational Website links. Advantage: raise awareness of biodiversity topics at low cost.
    Example: in 2003 and 2004 the Secretariat implemented a school outreach campaign as part of the activities marking the International Biodiversity Day. The aim of this pilot programme was to make the Secretariat and the work of the CBD known to students and teachers by sending staff of the Secretariat to different schools in the Montreal area to talk about the work of the CBD, and more specifically to convey the message of the importance of preserving life on earth.
  9. Create a special Website or special pages on International Biological Diversity Day and include recommended activities for individuals and groups based on the 2005 IBD theme and the key messages from the Synthesis Report.
  10. Introduce a programme of consultation on Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPs), incorporating the 2005 IBD theme and the key messages from the Synthesis Report with a view to stimulating effective local action for priorities identified in the national Biodiversity Action Plan, as well as for species and habitats which are particularly cherished or valued in local areas.

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  • United Nations Environment Programme