Communication, Education & Public Awareness

The CBD Secretariat celebrates International Day for Biological Diversity

The celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity 2006 by the Secretariat consisted in a number of activities which reflected the beginning of the new phase of enhanced implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

On January 9, the Executive Secretary sent a notification to all Parties inviting them to begin preparations to celebrate International Biodiversity Day under the theme of Protect Biodiversity in drylands, echoing the focus of the International Year of Deserts and Desertification. The official logo for IBD 2006 was made available at the same time on the IBD page of the CBD Website for all celebrants to download, along with a number of suggested activities. Additional materials, including fact sheets on the biodiversity of drylands, were posted subsequently.

Later, Parties whose countries encompass desert areas were invited to provide pictures for posting on the Secretariat’s Website “to highlight the beauty of these barren lands and reveal the wonders they conceal”. The beautiful photographs received are available on the Website for all to enjoy. All Parties were encouraged to submit reports and photographs of activities organized for IBD. By mid-June the Secretariat was delighted to have received over 25 extensive and informative reports, many with photographs, from Parties around the world, and all are posted on the IBD Celebrations page.

In addition to the School outreach programme for the Montreal area which has been a successful and enjoyable experience for Secretariat staff and local students for several years (see separate report), this year’s activities included an event-filled day hosted at the Secretariat on 23 May, as May 22 was a national holiday in Canada.

Dedication of the Joke Waller-Hunter Conference Room

The morning started with a solemn and touching ceremony in the presence of members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the City of Montreal, the Government of Québec, international organizations, universities and research centres, the staff of the Secretariat, and members of the press as the Secretariat’s large conference room was dedicated as the Joke Waller-Hunter Conference Room in memory of the late and beloved Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. The Executive Secretary, Mr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, introduced Mrs Betske Goinga, who represented the family of Mrs Waller-Hunter and gave a personal tribute: “My friend Joke, a remarkable person and professional”. The Consul General, Mr. Albert Moses, then spoke on behalf of the Netherlands, thanking the Executive Secretary for his thoughtful gesture. A message from Mr. Richard Kinley, Officer-in-Charge, UNFCCC was read. A portrait photograph of Mrs Waller-Hunter and a plaque at the entrance to the conference room were unveiled.

Celebration of IBD and announcements

The dedication ceremony was followed by celebration of the IBD, opening with welcoming remarks by the Executive Secretary, Mr. Ahmed Djoghlaf. The animation Action NOW for life on Earth was then shown, followed by a reading of the message from the Secretary-General of the UN and a reading of the Executive Secretary’s Message on the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity. 

Mrs. Helen Fotopulos, a Member of the Executive Committee of the City of Montreal spoke on behalf of the Mayor of Montreal, Mr. Gérald Tremblay and announced the formation of a joint City of Montreal- SCBD Committee on Biodiversity to facilitate the meshing of efforts of Montreal’s institutions and organisms while at the same time helping the City Administration to clarify its own actions in this field.

Following the special video Statement delivered by Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, His Excellency Smail Benamara, Ambassador of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria , underlined Algeria’s role and activities as host country for the principal celebrations of World Environment Day 2006, under the theme: Deserts and Desertification: Don’t desert drylands!

Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Mr. Taïb Chérif, spoke on behalf of the United Nations and international organizations in Montreal and emphasized the concrete steps taken by ICAO to protect the environment by reducing the ecological footprint of aircraft and airports throughout the world.

Representing the Government of Québec, Mr. Patrick Beauchesne spoke on “the role of the Government of Québec and its partners in the NGO community in the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity” and presented the recently published Biodiversity Atlas of Quebec.

Also on behalf of the Québec Government, Mr. Beauchesne made the official presentation to the Secretariat of the sculpture Planète captive, the contribution of the Government of Québec to the CBD Museum on Nature and Culture.

Mrs. Jocelyne Néron of the Institut Hydro Québec en environnement, développement et société launched the new Biodiversity portal and data base on the environmental conventions developed by the Institut. 

Other interventions and remarks were made by Mr.  El Habib Benessahraoui, Executive Director, Institut de  l’Énergie et de l’Environnement de la Francophonie; Mr. Marc G. Fortier, President of Montreal International; Mr. John Herity, Director, IUCN Canada, who spoke on “The role of non Governmental organizations in the achievement of the 2010 Biodiversity Target”; and the President of the Secretariat Staff Association, Mr. Ryan Hill.

Following a short press conference, a luncheon co-hosted by the Ministry of International relations of Québec was held at the Secretariat.

Roundtable discussion on collaboration between SCBD and Universities and Research Centres

At the Executive Secretary’s invitation, representatives of Concordia University, McGill University, the Université de Montréal and the Université du Québec à Montréal, Université Laval in Quebec City and Carleton University in Ottawa met for a roundtable discussion on Collaboration between SCBD and Universities and Research Centres. The meeting was the first of its kind.
Noting that universities and research institutions are essential partners in meeting the 2010 Biodiversity Target, as they have both the expert knowledge and technical capacity to develop and promote effective actions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf hailed the outcome of the meeting – signature of an agreement with the Secretariat to join forces in order to mobilize the scientific and technical community of the host country in support to the enhanced implementation phase of Convention.

[Note: In the short time since the 23rd of May, several other major Canadian institutions have expressed interest in joining in this unique partnership.]

Agreement was also reached with the representative of Montreal Nature Museums, comprising the Botanical Gardens, the Biodôme, the Insectarium, and the Montreal Planetarium, to join forces to support the implementation of the Secretariat’s outreach and communication activities.

In conclusion, the celebration by the Secretariat of International Biodiversity Day 2006 was a success on many levels. The announcements of Biodiversity-related projects made by the host city, provincial government and the internationally acclaimed Institut Hydro Québec en environnement, développement et société are strong indications of the commitment and good will of these valuable partners. The enthusiastic endorsement of the collaboration between the universities, research centres and the Secretariat is a promising beginning to a pan-Canadian effort which, it is hoped, will be both a model and a partner for Parties and regions across the globe.