International Day for Biological Diversity
Ranjan K Baruah
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])
Recent lockdown has taught us the importance of biodiversity. It has proved that we may live without luxury but cannot live without basic need. Our nature has everything for us but in spite of that we are destroying our nature. Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions and 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.
The words like environment, nature, biodiversity seems good on books but when it comes to practice of their conservation and protection we do not take action. We are real criminals for destroying our biodiversity for our own selfish interest. Biological diversity is often understood in terms of the wide variety of plants, animals and microorganisms, but it also includes genetic differences within each species — for example, between varieties of crops and breeds of livestock — and the variety of ecosystems (lakes, forest, deserts, agricultural landscapes) that host multiple kind of interactions among their members (humans, plants, animals).
There is no doubt that biological diversity resources are the pillars upon which we build civilizations. Fish provide 20 per cent of animal protein to about 3 billion people. Over 80 per cent of the human diet is provided by plants. Around 80 per cent of people living in rural areas in developing countries rely on traditional plant-based medicines for basic healthcare. Livelihoods are also linked with biodiversity in poor and developing countries.
Loss of biodiversity is directly linked with our lives and health. It has been proven that biodiversity loss could expand zoonoses - diseases transmitted from animals to humans- while, on the other hand, if we keep biodiversity intact, it offers excellent tools to fight against pandemics like those caused by coronaviruses.
As there is need to generate awareness on the importance of biological diversity the United Nations has decided to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity annually. The UN has proclaimed May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The theme for this year is 'our solutions are in nature'. As the global community is called to re-examine our relationship to the natural world, one thing is certain: despite all our technological advancement we are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy, just to name a few.
António Guterres, UN's Secretary-General on his message said that "preserving and sustainably managing biodiversity is necessary for mitigating climate disruption, guaranteeing water and food security and even preventing pandemics". "As we seek to build back better from the current crisis, let us work together to preserve biodiversity so we can achieve our Sustainable Development Goals, he said on his message.
Previous Years Themes
• 2019 - Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health
• 2018 - Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity
• 2017 - Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism
• 2016 - Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and their Livelihoods
• 2015 - Biodiversity for Sustainable Development
• 2014 - Island Biodiversity
• 2013 - Water and Biodiversity
• 2012 - Marine Biodiversity
• 2011 - Forest Biodiversity
• 2010 - Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation
We have experienced lockdown for the first time in our life and the year 2020 is a year of reflection, opportunity and solutions. It is expected, from each of us, that we will "Build Back Better" by using this time to increase the resilience of nations and communities as we recover from this pandemic. If we still do not learn the importance of biodiversity then we might be inviting more danger in near future. It's our challenge and also responsibility to take action against biodiversity loss. We should not forget that loss of biodiversity means loss for humanity.
(With direct inputs from UN publication)