The Urgency of Preserving Biodiversity

Photo by Lolin Menendez, rscj

Since its inception in 1972, World Environment Day has been observed annually on June 5, in order to raise deeper awareness of the need to protect, preserve and enhance the environment. The theme of World Environment Day 2010 is Many Species. One Planet. One Future. This theme focuses to the importance of conserving biodiversity, which is constantly threatened due to human actions such as deforestation and pollution. Biodiversity – the variety of life on earth – is critical because it provides the basic necessities such as pure air, water and food. Nonetheless, biodiversity is often abused in order to gain short-term advantages. A recent example of the consequences of such abuse was seen in post-earthquake Haiti, where widespread deforestation had taken place over many decades.

The United Nations has declared 2010 theInternational Year of Biodiversity, a unique opportunity to deepen our understanding of how biodiversity is vital to sustain life on planet Earth. Another excellent resource to learn about the International Year of Biodiversity can be found on the website of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), clickhere. Particularly moving and informative are the videos in the multimedia section. Other videos can be found by clicking here.

At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the international community concluded the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty aimed at preserving life on earth. From 18-29 October 2010, countries that are signatories to this treaty will meet in Nagoya, Japan for the tenth Conference of Parties (COP 10), to review the treaty’s implementation. To learn more about this conference from the perspective of NGOs, please click here.

The report entitled Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, launched in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 10, will be among the key resources for the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit. The report makes for challenging yet essential reading, as the current state of affairs is far removed from the targets set by the international community at the 1992 Earth Summit. To quote Achim Steiner, UNEP’s Executive Director: “The arrogance of humanity is that somehow we imagine we can get by without biodiversity or that it is somehow peripheral: the truth is we need it more than ever on a planet of six billion heading to over nine billion people by 2050.”

Cecile Meijer, rscj
Noraida Colón, intern

May 2010