This 22 May is the International Day of Biodiversity.
Biodiversity represents all forms of life on Earth, plants, animals and micro-organisms, but also the genetic diversity of each of these species and the variety of ecosystems that constitute our planet.
This biodiversity provides us with countless goods and services that are essential for our survival. According to the UN, marine and coastal biodiversity provides 20% of the protein supply for 3 billion people, more than 80% of our food is provided by plants and nearly 80% of people in rural areas of developing countries rely on plants for their health.
The recent Covid-19 pandemic also highlights an additional role of biodiversity: to protect us from infectious diseases. It has been shown that a decrease in biodiversity increases our risk of exposure to zoonosis, which are infectious diseases transmitted from animals to humans. In recent years, 70% of emerging infectious diseases have been zoonotic. The decrease in biodiversity and the extinction of many species increase the likelihood of these diseases reaching humans.
These examples show that biodiversity conservation is vital for our survival and that biodiversity resources are the pillars on which our entire civilisation rests.
Yet biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate. The rate of species extinction is accelerating, with devastating effects on people around the world. Currently, more than one million species of animals and plants are at risk of extinction. Nature is in crisis due to biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change. According to the UN, 66% of the marine environment and 75% of the terrestrial environment have been modified by humans. We are the most responsible for this imbalance and we must act urgently.
The World Biodiversity Day therefore takes place to raise awareness on the importance of protecting and conserving biodiversity, as it constitutes an indispensable solution to the challenges of sustainable development. Biodiversity can enable us to rebuild and face up to current problems related to climate, food and water security, or health.
The slogan for the day this year is "We're part of the solution". It reminds us that we are part of the problem but that we can all do something to improve things and be part of the solution.