Communication, Education & Public Awareness

2005 Biodiversity Day Around the World

In 2005, 22 May, the International Day for Biological Diversity fell on a Sunday, therefore most of the activities celebrated by the Secretariat and around the world took place in the days preceding 22 May.  Events and celebrations highlighted the theme for 2005:  Biodiversity:  Life Insurance for our Changing World.

United Nations' Secretary-General's message

A Message from the Secretary-General was received in the six official languages of the United Nations and was posted on the CBD website.

Message from Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The Executive Director of UNEP, Klaus Topfer, delivered a message on IBD.

Remarks by Hamdallah Zedan, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity

The Executive Secretary of the CBD delivered a statement on the IBD.

Other Messages of Congratulations


Statements and messages were received from around the world.

Ministerial statement by South Africa
Ministerial statements by the United Kingdom
Quote from Jim Knight MP (Minister for Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. UK)
Press Conference for Launch of the Biodiversity Synthesis Report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

Ministerial statement by Canada


Convention on Migratory Species


AL-BIA WAL-TANMIA  - Environment and Development Magazine

Launch of the Biodiversity Synthesis Report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Montreal

As a way to mark the theme for IBD 2005, the Secretariat, in collaboration with the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and McGill University, co-hosted the launch of the Biodiversity Synthesis Report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in a day-long celebration at the Faculty Club of McGill University.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a five-year programme initiated by the United Nations Secretary-General, represents one of the most comprehensive reviews of the state of ecosystem health and its relationship to human well-being. The Biodiversity Synthesis Report has an important bearing on this year’s theme for the International Day for Biological Diversity, as it underlines the importance of biological diversity not just in providing the services upon which life depends, but also those enabling ecosystems to be resilient and robust in the face of change.

Over one hundred guests joined the Secretariat in celebrating IBD 2005 and launching the report.  Guests included representatives of the consular and diplomatic communities of Montreal and Ottawa, policy-makers from all levels of government in Canada, educators and researchers from Montreal, and representatives of the media.  The programme can be found here

A morning press conference was opened by Jacques Hurtubise, vice-principal of research for McGill University, who welcomed the opportunity for collaboration with the CBD.  Walter Reid, director of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and Anantha Duraiappah, the co-chair of the Biodiversity synthesis report, presented the main findings of the report to the audience.

Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan delivered an address on this year's theme.  He pointed out that ecosystem services and biodiversity will be in greater demand in the future - just at the time that evidence of their decline is becoming even more clear.  He urged Parties to implement the programmes of work of the Convention with all haste.

Representatives of all three levels of government from the host country, Canada delivered remarks.  The City of Montreal was represented by Alan DeSousa, and the federal government was represented by Robert MacLean, Director General of Environment Canada.  The government of Quebec was represented by the honourable Thomas Mulcair, Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development and Parks of Quebec.

Following lunch,  a two-session mini-seminar provided an opportunity for a more in-depth discussion of the report from a scientific viewpoint.  Jo Mulongoy, of SCBD, chaired a panel that explored the Assessment and its impact on the CBD and on the debate over sustainable development.  Panelists included Walter Reid, Anantha Duraiappah, David Cooper of the SCBD and Oliver Coomes, editor of the journal World Development.

A second panel explored the impact of the Assessment Report on biodiversity research.  An eminent group of McGill researchers including Catherine Potvin, Andrew Gonzalez, Brian Leung and Colin Chapman discussed new directions in research that draw from the findings of the report.

School Awareness Programme

Building on last year’s successful outreach school program, and in order to help commemorate the IBD for 2005, it was decided that the Secretariat would re- establish contact with Montreal area schools who participated in the programme in previous years as well as target new schools to see if they would be interested  in a  biodiversity-related presentation.

The aim of the school outreach, programme is to make the Secretariat known to this audience by sending staff of the Secretariat to different schools to talk about the work of the CBD, and more specifically to pass on the message of the importance of preserving life on earth.  Given the lack of awareness of Biodiversity and the complexity of the concept, it was obvious that the Secretariat needed to strengthen visibility within schools and work with educators to help facilitate the understanding of issues covered by the Convention and its programmes of work.  The experience of the 2004 programme demonstrated that by taking advantage of the professional and personal experiences of the Secretariat staff, it is possible to convey to the students a comprehensive understanding of the importance biodiversity conservation and sustainable development to the lives of people from around the world.

A couple of different approaches were added to this year’s awareness raising campaign. Students were asked to enact an actual UN meeting. They were provided with a “draft document” entitled “Urban Biodiversity: PROPOSED ELEMENTS FOR A PROGRAMME OF WORK,” were asked to chose a country to represent, do some background research on the environmental issues facing their country, and then state their case in this “ mock UN meeting” This activity provided them with the perfect opportunity to express their concerns over the slow and sometimes tedious process of international negotiations.

The second activity was used for the younger students aged 10-13. Presenters wanted to stress the notion that every living thing is connected contributing to the intricate web of life.  Students were provided with different pictures representing different species and ecosystems. Using a ball of yarn each student was asked to state why his species was important, they would then pass the ball of yarn to another student who in turn needed to explain how they were connected. By the end of the activity everybody was inter-connected and as one species was removed from the web it was clear that breaks in the web due to species extinction, or man made destruction, causes serious damage.

The poster for the International Day for Biological Diversity was also used as a teaching aid. Students were referred to the poster and asked to remember the diversity of food they had for breakfast, we reminded them about the fragility of our water resources on the planet and also about the importance of preserving biodiversity which in turn will take care of us by providing us with the food we eat and the medicines we need and the air we breathe.

Judging from the positive feedback from both SCBD staff presenters and teachers, it is evident that by continuing outreach efforts with committed and focused educators, it is possible to promote issues concerning biodiversity.