Press Release



Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan marking the International Day for Biological Diversity, 22 May:

Biological diversity is one of the pillars of human life.  It stabilizes the Earth’s climate, renews soil fertility and provides goods and services that contribute to our material well-being.  Yet unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and other harmful practices, exacerbated by poverty and other social and economic factors, continue to destroy, at an unprecedented rate, habitats and the species that depend on them.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the main legal instrument adopted by the international community to face this challenge.  The Convention has been an effective vehicle for developing new concepts and policies.  It has led to the adoption of programmes to preserve key ecosystems.  It has broadened participation to involve all key actors, particularly indigenous and local communities.  And it has made significant inroads towards the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits generated by the utilization of genetic resources.

While these accomplishments provide good reasons for optimism, much remains to be done.  The real value of biological diversity must be recognized by decision makers, and incorporated along with other environmental considerations into the elaboration of trade and economic policies.  Developing countries need more assistance in strengthening their capacity to act in this area.  Forests and fisheries need to be managed in sustainable ways.

On this International Day for Biological Diversity, I call on governments that have not yet done so to ratify the Convention and its Biosafety Protocol.  And as we prepare for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg later this year, I urge the entire international community to focus urgent and creative attention on the devastating impact of human activities on the rich diversity of life with which human beings share the planet.

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