International Biodiversity Day to focus on water

forestThe world marks International Biodiversity Day tomorrow, May 22 with the theme, “Water and Biodiversity”.

Commemoration of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) every year on 22 May since the year 2000 is a special occasion to reflect on the role biodiversity plays in the lives of people and this year’s theme has been chosen in recognition of the United Nations designation of 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation.

This year’s theme speaks to the important role of biodiversity and ecosystems in providing for water security, and therefore for sustainable development.

According to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has been chosen as the lead agency to promote the global celebrations and to help raise awareness on the critical issues facing water management.

Explaining the appropriateness of the theme in a notification published 6 November 2012 and signed by its Executive Secretary, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the SCBD said “Water sustains all life on Earth. It is vital for all people and ultimately determines our way of life.”

According to the secretariat, “Providing and sustaining water for the needs of people around the world is already well recognised as a major challenge for sustainable development in most areas in both developed and developing countries.  The ecosystems of our world, but particularly forests and wetlands, ensure that clean water is available to human communities. Water in turn underpins all ecosystem services.”

The secretariat stated further, that while wetlands can help reduce risks from flooding, restoring soils can reduce erosion and pollution and can increase water available for crops, whereas protected areas can assist in providing water to cities.

These are but a few examples of how ecosystem management can help us solve water-related problems, the secretariat suggested.

Also stressing that water – the source of all Life on Earth – is a cross-cutting topic that requires partnerships for its management, the secretariat disclosed that solutions to water management issues are included in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets.

Designation of IDB 2013 on the theme of water also provides Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the public at large the opportunity to raise awareness about this vital issue, and to increase positive action.

Coincidently, the period 2005-2015 has been declared the International Decade for Action – ‘WATER FOR LIFE’ by the United Nations, whereas 2011-2020 has been declared the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.

To help celebrate the International Day for Biodiversity, the secretariat stated in the notification that it will develop a variety of outreach materials including a web page with key messages and a booklet on the theme.

The United Nations proclaimed May 22, the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

When first created by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly in late 1993, 29 December (the date of entry into force of the Convention of Biological Diversity), was designated the International Day for Biological Diversity.

In December 2000 however, the UN General Assembly adopted 22 May as IDB, to commemorate the adoption of the text of the Convention on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act of the Conference, for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

This was partly done because it was difficult for many countries to plan and carry out suitable celebrations for the date of 29 December, given the number of holidays that coincide around that time of year.

In its over 13-year history, IDB has been commemorated globally with themes as follows; 2012 – Marine Biodiversity, 2011 – Forest Biodiversity, 2010 – Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation, 2009 – Invasive Alien Species and 2008 – Biodiversity and Agriculture.

Others have been; 2007 – Biodiversity and Climate Change, 2006 – Protect Biodiversity in Drylands, 2005 – Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World, 2004 – Biodiversity: Food, Water and Health for All, 2003 – Biodiversity and poverty alleviation – challenges for sustainable development and 2002 – Dedicated to forest biodiversity .

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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