The International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May 2005

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.

Appendix 1 – Possible mass communication techniques, their advantages and disadvantages

Technique Features Advantages Disadvantages
Community interviews Face-to-face meetings Personal visits or phone calls to local residents, elected officials, community groups, key official or group leaders to announce a problem, provide background information, or answer questions. Provide background information.
Determine reactions before an issue "goes public".
Alert key people to issues that may affect them. Two-way communication technique.
Requires time. Should be complemented by other activities.
Informal meetings Meetings with individual groups identified as having a particular interest in this problem and/or facility. Allows two-way interaction between citizens and local officials; officials can learn how citizens view the problem. This actively promotes public participation. Two-way communication technique. Should be complemented by other activities. Requires time.
Briefings Meetings with key state, local officials, people key to the public involvement process to inform them of the status of a permit application or a solution to the problem. Allow the public to raise questions about any action prior to public release of information regarding that problem. Allows for the exchange of information and concern. Two-way communication technique. Usually takes a day to plan and conduct. Although briefings can be an effective tool for updating public, should always be complemented by other activities, such as informal meetings, news conferences, and so on.
Workshops Workshops are seminars or gatherings of small groups of people (usually between 10 and 30), led by a small number of specialists with technical expertise on a specific problem. Two-way communication technique. Provide more information to the public than is possible through written materials. They are successful in familiarizing citizens with key technical terms and involve them in better ownership. If only limited number of workshops are held, only a small segment of population is affected.
Public meetings and hearings Formal conferences for all groups of stakeholders, led by the specialists with technical expertise on a specific problem. Is intended for two-way discussion between specialists and community and to afford community members an opportunity to ask questions. Two-way communication technique. Provide accurate information to the public on the activity. Public meetings often create an atmosphere of "us versus them". One way to avoid confrontation is to make sure that representatives of the community are briefed in a less formal setting prior to the full formal public meeting/hearing.
Panel discussion, brain-storming Organized for identifying problems and possible solutions and for discussing controversial subjects. Very effective tools in planning, realization and implementation of any activity. Should be complemented by other activities.
Mailing list Mailing lists are both important databases and essential communication tools. Mailing lists typically include concerned residents, elected officials, appropriate national, regional and local government contacts, local media, organized environmental groups, facility employees, and local businesses. Allow reaching broad or targeted audiences with its messages. Requires time. One-way communication technique.
Public notice Public notices provide an official announcement of proposed decisions and provides the public with the opportunity to comment on the proposed decision. Efficient, simple means of alerting the public to important events. It should never substitute for other activities that involve direct communication with the public. One-way communication technique.