Message from Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries

Biodiversity is the fabric of life, cleaning the water we drink, pollinating our crops, purifying the air we breathe, regulating the climate, keeping our soils fertile, providing us with medicine, and supplying the basic foundations of any society.

When we damage an ecosystem, we make it more fragile. We saw off the branch that we sit on. But well-balanced ecosystems protect us against unforeseen disasters, and when we use them in a sustainable manner, they offer unparalleled protection against climate change.

World Wildlife Day is a chance to celebrate the marvels of nature, from the enormous variety of services it delivers to its intrinsic value, its beauty, and the spiritual enrichment it brings.

It’s also a chance to celebrate the anniversary of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which has done so much to protect us, and is a key partner for the European Union.

But it’s also a day for honesty. Today, more than ever before, we need to face up to truths about the nature that surrounds us. In forests, in the mountains and the seas, the signs are very clear: wildlife is under threat, and we are the ones to blame.

So it’s time for a new approach. At the European Commission, we’re working to deliver a new deal for nature. It’s part of Europe’s Green Deal, and it’s our promise to step up protection where it counts.  Without greater protection for nature, we can't deliver on the SDGs. And if we don't protect nature and keep it healthy, it can't look after us.

I want Europe to be a friend to biodiversity. A friend that listens and a friend that acts. And a friend that leads by example.

The European Commission will be marking the day with UNEP, at a ceremony in Monaco. The European Commission will be launching a new global initiative, a broad coalition for nature. It's an invitation to take a stand, and demand that world leaders, local authorities, industry, all of us deliver the protection that nature deserves.

Because it’s time for change. In Nature’s hour of need, it’s time for us to become that helping hand.