“We’re part of the solution” is the theme of the 2021 International Day for Biological Diversity.
The slogan was chosen to be a continuation of the momentum generated last year under the over-arching theme, “Our solutions are in nature”, which served as a reminder that biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges.
Biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better – from nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods.
When biodiversity has a problem, humanity has a problem.
Biological diversity is often understood in terms of the wide variety of plants, animals and microorganisms, but it also includes genetic differences within each species — for example, between varieties of crops and breeds of livestock — and the variety of ecosystems (lakes, forest, deserts, agricultural landscapes) that host multiple kind of interactions among their members (humans, plants, animals).
Biological diversity resources are the pillars upon which we build civilizations.
Fish provide 20 per cent of animal protein to about 3 billion people.
Over 80 per cent of the human diet is provided by plants.
As many as 80 per cent of people living in rural areas in developing countries rely on traditional plant‐based medicines for basic healthcare.
But loss of biodiversity threatens all, including our health.
It has been proven that biodiversity loss could expand zoonoses – diseases transmitted from animals to humans- while, on the other hand, if we keep biodiversity intact, it offers excellent tools to fight against pandemics like those caused by coronaviruses.
Given the importance of public education and awareness about this issue, the UN decided to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity annually.
UNESCO’s intersectoral strategy for biodiversity is based on 3 pillars:
Restore the relationship between humans and nature and regenerate ecosystems;
Conserve the harmony of our ecosystems;
Amplify the power of youth.
The backbone of this strategy are UNESCO designated sites (1,121 World Heritage sites, 714 Biosphere Reserves and 161 Global Geoparks) that cover 6% of the Earth’s landmass and are key areas where people learn to live in harmony with other living species.
South Africa is ranked in the top three countries globally when it comes to plant and marine species endemism (species found nowhere else on Earth).
The diversity and uniqueness of South Africa’s species and ecosystems makes us one of the world’s 17 megadiverse nations – countries that together contain more than two thirds of the world’s biodiversity.
While it occupies only 2% of the world’s land surface area, South Africa is home to 10% of the world’s plant species and 7% of its reptile, bird and mammal species.
South Africa harbours around 15% of the world’s marine species. Endemism rates reach 56% for amphibians, 65% for plants and up to 70% for invertebrates.
Biodiversity is our most valuable but least appreciated resource. – Edward O. Wilson