BIODIVERSITY BENEFITS PEOPLE:
Celebrating International Day of Biological Diversity (International Biodiversity Day), 22 May 2004
Sustainable use of the world's natural resources is vital for our survival, well-being and future prosperity.
Stop and look around you. Everywhere you turn, you'll see evidence of how the earth's resources help you survive. Food, clothes, clean water supplies, housing and medicine are among our most basic needs, but it is easy to forget that we owe their existence to the complex interaction among ecosystems within our natural world.
22 May 2004 marks the annual celebration of International Biodiversity Day - an occasion to reflect on the true value of nature and the protection it affords us. This year's theme, Biodiversity: Food, Water and Health for All, was chosen to highlight the link between the environment and human well-being that so many of us take for granted.
To celebrate International Biodiversity Day, the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) has developed an online audio presentation entitled 'Biodiversity Benefits People', which can be downloaded free-of-charge from the Centre's website
Peter Hall, Director of Biodiversity Information Services at UNEP-WCMC, emphasises its educational value. "The presentation outlines the dangers that threaten fragile ecosystems and identifies the enormous benefits, goods and services we take from the earth's living resources. We hope that educators and the media will use this presentation to inform a broader audience of these critical issues."
Global consumption patterns show that the wealthy nations are driving the depletion of our living resources, while the poor struggle to survive. Our oceans, plant life and animal species are under increasing threat from pollution and over-exploitation. But everyone is entitled to reap the benefits of biodiversity, both now and in the future, making commitment to political agendas a priority. International agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, adopted after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, play a crucial role in conserving and managing biodiversity.
The Millennium Development Goals, set up in 2000, also recognise the vital importance of biodiversity in sustaining livelihoods, especially in the developing world.
Mark Collins, Director of UNEP-WCMC, stresses the need to increase knowledge about biodiversity and its benefits. "International Biodiversity Day is an important opportunity to draw attention to how much the environment contributes to our lives. Gaining a wider understanding of biodiversity issues encourages positive action at all levels, from families recycling their household waste to governments establishing political aims such as the target to reduce biodiversity loss by 2010."