Messages for World Wildlife Day 2020

Message from António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Humanity is an inextricable part of the rich tapestry of life that makes up our world’s biological diversity. All human civilizations have been and continue to be built on the use of wild and cultivated species of flora and fauna, from the food we eat to the air we breathe.

However, it seems that humanity has forgotten just how much we need nature for our survival and well-being. As our population and our needs continue to grow, we keep exploiting natural resources - including wild plants and animals and their habitats - in an unsustainable manner.

In its 2019 Global Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) highlighted how the current global rate of species extinction is rampant and accelerating - tens to hundreds of times higher than before humans inhabited the planet. 

By overexploiting wildlife, habitats and ecosystems, humanity is endangering both itself and the survival of countless species of wild plants and animals. Today, close to a quarter of all species on the planet are in danger of becoming extinct in the next decades.

On this World Wildlife Day, let us remind ourselves of our duty to preserve and sustainably use the vast variety of life on the planet. Let us push for a more caring, thoughtful and... See more

Message from Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP

This year, World Wildlife Day focuses on Sustaining All Life on Earth. This is an opportunity to raise urgent awareness about the plight of nature, the plight of wildlife, and what this means for human wellbeing and the planet.

Science tells us that nearly one million out of the nearly 8 million species on our planet face the threat of extinction. We are losing species at an average of 1000 times the natural extinction rate. This is a catastrophe we simply cannot afford.

In 2020, the Super Year for Nature, we have a real chance to bend the curve on nature loss.

Far too much of our economic growth, food production, urbanization and resource extraction has come at the expense of wild spaces. We know for example that 70% of our tropical forests face degradation from unsustainable land conversion. And frankly where wildlife and wild spaces persist, the cost of maintaining them is borne by poor communities but the benefits accrue to us all.

This must change. The true value of nature must be accounted for in our economic models. We need to be creative and innovative in funding for sustaining wild spaces.
And we need to step up our support of sustainable trade in wildlife.

This is why instruments like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of... See more

Message from Ivonne Higuero, Secretary-General of CITES

We are extremely fortunate to count on the presence of an endless diversity of wild animals, plants, and other lifeforms that together make up life on our planet.

Humans around the world benefit every single day from wildlife. In many ways, our history is the story of our species’ interaction with, and adaptation to, the diverse lifeforms present in our close vicinity. Since time immemorial, we have used wild plants and animals for our most basic needs: from the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the materials we use for shelter and comfort.

The human well-being and prosperity that is derived from the direct exploitation of wildlife, habitats and ecosystems should not be to the detriment of the building blocks of a rich and diverse biosphere. The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) was agreed in 1973 to avoid this by regulating international trade in wildlife and ensure that this trade is legal, sustainable and traceable.

More and more, however, the unsustainable exploitation of wild fauna and flora and their ecosystems is threatening their survival. Every single piece of the puzzle of life is essential and losing even the smallest of these pieces leaves us, and the entire planet, poorer. When human actions endanger hundreds of thousands of... See more

Message from Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of IPBES

Sustaining all life on Earth is an appropriate theme for World Wildlife Day during the ‘2020 Super Year for Nature’ because biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are quite literally the bedrock on which all human development and well-being are grounded.

In 2019, the IPBES Global Assessment sounded the alarm: one million species of plants and animals are threatened with extinction in a matter of decades. Our natural world is being destroyed at a rate unprecedented in human history.

In 2020 we must choose better, evidence-informed policies, and fundamentally transform our relationship with nature to ensure a healthy planet for every person.

Wildlife is so much more than the obvious charismatic and exotic species. Wild plants and animals, and the spaces they occupy, are the building blocks of human well-being and vital for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

I thank CITES for its crucial work in protecting endangered species and all those who raise their voices to speak up for the future we want.

We look forward to continued collaboration with the CITES community, particularly on the current IPBES assessment of the sustainable use of wild species.

Sustaining all life on Earth is as much about self-interest as altruism, as much about people as nature. 

Message from Dilys Roe, Chair of IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi)

The theme of this year’s  World Wildlife Day - Sustaining All Life on Earth – serves as a timely reminder that sustainable use is one of the three pillars of the UN Convention on Biodiversity, alongside conservation and equitable benefit sharing. Sometimes  - particularly when we hear about species under threat of extinction and ecosystems on the brink of collapse – it is easy to think that the most important action we can take is to protect wildlife from humans. More often than not, it is the sustainable use of species by humans that can be key to their long term conservation.

Take the saltwater crocodile in Australia’s Northern Territories, for example. By the start of the 1970s there were only 3,000 creatures left in the wild because people had thought of them as pests and sought to eradicate them.  A protection programme was started to save them from extinction which went well for a few years until they reached the numbers and sizes that once again started to have serious negative impacts on people and the protection was halted. The introduction of an egg collection and ranching programme in the 1980s, so that the crocodiles became a benefit rather than a cost to local people turned things around, and now the crocodile population has made a full recovery and numbers about 100,000 –... See more

Message from Peter Moll, Chairman of World Leaders of Today

The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day, "Sustaining all life on Earth", resonates with so many of my generation. Right now, all hope can seem lost and the future feels uncertain because of the overwhelming emergency hanging over our wildlife and biodiversity in general. But we must believe in hope and action if we are to truly respect our future and love one another through the core of what being a human being means.

Humanity is needed if we are going to "Sustain all life on Earth". We must make informed decisions and listen to the science, but we must also look within each of us and ask ourselves whether we truly care enough about each other; whether we have enough compassion for one another to restore and protect our planet.

We must break these invisible but real barriers of division and isolation within our generation from race, social economic differences and more. We must truly embrace the ethos of Ubuntu - which simply means “I am because we are”. Compassion, kindness, empathy and unity: some may wonder what does this have to do with conservation and Sustaining all life on Earth? Well, it has everything to do with it: as a community, we must come together with shared values of care and empathy for the common goal of conserving both wildlife and our own future.

We must rethink the... See more