The Tropics account for 40 per cent of the world’s total surface area and are host to approximately 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity and much of its language and cultural diversity. Photo: FAO/IPPC

The future belongs to the Tropics

The International Day of the Tropics celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the tropics while highlighting unique challenges and opportunities nations of the Tropics face. It provides an opportunity to take stock of progress across the tropics, to share tropical stories and expertise and to acknowledge the diversity and potential of the region.

The Ecosystem

The Tropics are a region of the Earth, roughly defined as the area between the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn. Although topography and other factors contribute to climatic variation, tropical locations are typically warm and experience little seasonal change in day-to-day temperature. An important feature of the Tropics is the prevalence of rain in the moist inner regions near the equator, and that the seasonality of rainfall increases with the distance from the equator. The tropical region faces several challenges such as climate change, deforestation, logging, urbanisation and demographic changes.

The Human System

Tropical nations have made significant progress but face a variety of challenges that demand focused attention across a range of development indicators and data in order to achieve sustainable development.

  • By 2050, the region will host most of the world's people and two-thirds of its children.
  • Consistent with the higher levels of poverty, more people experience undernourishment in the Tropics than in the rest of the world.
  • The proportion of the urban population living in slum conditions is higher in the Tropics than in the rest of the World.

Background

The inaugural State of the Tropics Report was launched on 29 June 2014, as the culmination of a collaboration between twelve leading tropical research institutions. The report offers a unique perspective on this increasingly important region. Marking the anniversary of the report’s launch the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/70/267 in 2016, which declared that 29 June of each year is to be observed as the International Day of the Tropics.

The international Day of the Tropics was designated to raise awareness to the specific challenges faced by tropical areas, the far-reaching implications of the issues affecting the world’s tropical zone and the need, at all levels, to raise awareness and to underline the important role that countries in the tropics will play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Follow on Twitter at: #WeAreTheTropics and #TropicsDay.

Did you know?

  • The Tropics host nearly 95% of the world’s mangrove forests by area and 99% of mangrove species. 
  • The Tropics have just over half of the world’s renewable water resources (54%), yet almost half their population is considered vulnerable to water stress.
  • Biodiversity is greater in the Tropics – however, loss of biodiversity is also greater in the Tropics than in the rest of the world.
Woman picking a fruit off a tree.

Carmen Rodríguez has lived in Montes de María for many years, preserving the last fragments of the tropical dry forest. Under her leadership, families in the community are actively working on nature-based solutions such as fruit gardens, cocoa production, nurseries with native seeds of indigenous varieties of grains, eco-efficient stoves to reduce wood consumption, silvopastoral systems, beekeeping, and community tourism.

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.