World Environment Day: Stop and think about life

05 June 2010 | News story

Today, 5 June, we celebrate World Environment Day, with the theme: “Many Species. One Planet. One Future.” Let everyone hear this urgent call to conserve the diversity of life on our planet.

Twenty-one percent of all known mammals, 30 percent of all known amphibians, 12 percent of all known birds, 35 percent of conifers and cycads, 17 percent of sharks and 27 percent of reef-building corals…the list is long and amounts to a total of 17,291 species that are known to be threatened with extinction.

And there may be many more threatened plants and animals that we are not aware of. The variety and distribution of species that exist today is a result of more than 3.5 billion years of evolution and the total number of species ranges from five to 30 million. Only 1.7–2 million of them have been formally identified, and many disappear before they are even discovered.

Biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth – gives us food, clothes, fuel, medicine and much more. It is a complex and intricate web of life on which we depend for our survival. And when one species is removed, it can trigger a domino effect with unforeseen consequences.

We are all responsible for the ongoing biodiversity crisis but we also have the power to stop it. Through conservation action, we have been bringing species back from the brink and restoring vital natural habitats. But it is not enough. We need to do much more and much faster.

Targets to stem the loss of biodiversity, which were set in 2002, have not been met and we are losing biodiversity at unprecedented rates. Urgent action is needed to ensure the resilience of people and nature, and to avoid reaching the point of no return.

The United Nations has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity to stress the importance of biodiversity for human well-being and encourage a redoubling of our efforts to reduce biodiversity loss. In October, global leaders will meet in Japan to agree on new biodiversity targets – the future of all life on Earth.

You too, by caring about the environment in your everyday life, can become an agent of change and contribute to saving the world’s biodiversity.

This is a crucial year for all life on Earth and today is a special day to remember about it. Let us all put words into action in a global effort to save our planet.

For more information, visit the official UN World Environment Day website: http://www.unep.org/wed/2010/english/