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The International Day for Biological Diversity, also known as World Biodiversity Day, is celebrated on May 22nd every year. It is a United Nations–sanctioned international day for the promotion of biodiversity issues.
During the last century, biodiversity has declined substantially. In 2007, German Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel cited estimates that up to 30% of all known species will be extinct by 2050. Of these, about one eighth of known plant species are threatened with extinction.
Rapid extinction is not just a problem for the species going extinct. As the United Nations explains, it matters for humans too:
“Biodiversity is the foundation for life and for the essential services provided by ecosystems. It therefore underpins peoples’ livelihoods and sustainable development in all areas of activity, including economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, among others. By halting biodiversity loss, we are investing in people, their lives and their well-being.”
The International Institute for Environment and Development continues:
“Biodiversity is the lifeblood of sustainable development and green economies. It underpins the delivery of a wide range of essential goods and services on which we all depend: food, fodder, fibers and medicines. Poor people in rural areas of developing countries are disproportionately dependent on these goods and services to meet their day-to-day survival needs. To them, biodiversity is a safety net, a natural health service and an insurance strategy.”
Therefore, the topic of 2016 celebration is ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and their Livelihoods’. This builds on the attention the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) directed towards the connection between biodiversity and sustainable development in 2015: “Biodiversity is essential for sustainable development and human well-being. It is crucial to the reduction of poverty, due to the basic goods and ecosystem services it provides.”
In October 2010, in Japan, governments agreed to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Targets as the basis for halting and eventually reversing the loss of biodiversity of the planet. This plan provides an overarching framework on biodiversity, not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but for the entire United Nations system and all other partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development. Parties agreed to translate this overarching international framework into revised and updated national biodiversity strategies and action plans within two years.