Key messages and how they relate to Biodiversity Day
IBD 2005’s theme asks people to look at Biodiversity beyond its value for short-term consumption, extraction and direct use. The message for the year is simple: Biodiversity is the life insurance of life itself.
More specifically, diversity within species helps a given species survive rapid changes in the surrounding ecosystem. Diversity between species increases the resilience of ecosystems, by enhancing functions and providing multiple sources for ecosystem services. Greater resilience in ecosystems make sustainable development possible and protect all life from the potential consequences of non-linear change, including sudden changes to ecosystems, such as that brought on by disasters.
This message has been part of the work of the Convention for years and was reiterated at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002, and should be a fundamental understanding of any approach to the long-term conservation and use of biodiversity.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s biodiversity synthesis report has an important bearing on this year’s theme for IBD – “Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World”. Among other aspects, the report highlights the role of ecosystem services in sustaining life and providing protection for the vulnerable. It also draws the link between the risks of rapid non-linear change and the increased demands that people are placing on ecosystems around the world. Ecosystem services provide human beings with options, which is of particular importance to the poor and the vulnerable.
The report contains six key findings which can be rewritten to suit the different target audiences you may be trying to reach. We recommend that these main findings be stressed in all communications materials related to the International Biodiversity Day. Below we present the findings from the report, rewritten for a general audience.
What is the problem? (finding 1)
In the last 50 years, Human actions have changed the diversity of life on the planet more than at any other time in history. Our activities have lifted many people out of poverty, but at the price of a loss of biodiversity. If we continue down this road, we will reduce biological diversity, with life-threatening consequences.
Why is biodiversity loss a concern? (findings 2 and 3)
Biodiversity is the foundation for human well-being. Not only does it provide the materials we need for food, clothing and shelter, but also gives us security, health and freedom of choices. The current pace and rhythm of our activities are harming ecosystems, consuming biological resources and putting at risk the well-being of future generations.
What are the causes of biodiversity loss and how they are changing? (finding 4)
Human activities are leading to the loss of the variety of life. Population increase and economic activity, fuelled by technological change and our patterns of political and cultural life are placing undue pressure on ecosystems. Our actions are changing habitats, the climate, overexploiting resources, creating pollution and promoting the spread of invasive alien species. If current patterns continue, the loss of biodiversity will accelerate, not diminish.
What actions can be taken? (finding 5)
We know that in the past, actions and programmes that promoted conservation and the sustainable use of biological diversity limited biodiversity loss. This is promising, but we are not doing enough. To further reduce and to stop the loss of biodiversity will require a whole host of new and stronger actions. Sustainable human development remains the primary goal and we need to strengthen the range and power of our ability to respond to biodiversity loss.
The 2010 target and its implications (finding 6)
The size of the task ahead of us is so great that the 2010 biodiversity target will only realistically be achieved in certain areas and regions if we engage in substantial efforts. This sobering conclusion is not hopeless. Humankind can choose to act now for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity if it changes the way it is causing change, carefully chooses the ways it responds to change and makes the right tradeoffs.