Messages for World Wildlife Day 2020

Message from Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations

See President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande's video message here.

On World Wildlife Day we must commit to protect the rich diversity of wildlife species, ecosystems and ecosystem services.

As we strive to build a brighter future, let us not forget that this future cannot come at the cost of our planet’s own well-being. We must balance our own needs with those of the wildlife, habitats and ecosystems that surround us.

We are becoming increasingly aware of our dependence on biodiversity and the negative impact of our own actions on it.

Business as usual has brought one million species to the brink of extinction. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)'s Global Assessment maintains that our well-being and quality of life depends on the endurance of our planet’s rich biological diversity, and we must act to avoid reaching a tipping point that is irreversible.

On this World Wildlife Day, under the theme of "Sustaining all Life on Earth", we celebrate wild fauna and flora as essential components of our world’s biodiversity. We acknowledge the many benefits of wildlife to people, planet and prosperity.

I ask that you pledge to strive... See more

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 Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP

See Mr. Steiner's video message here.

We gather today on World Wildlife Day to celebrate wildlife and recognize our shared commitment for a planet where people and nature can thrive together.

At the moment, biodiversity is under tremendous threat due to a number of common pressures – habitat stress; overexploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources; air, land and water pollution; increasing numbers and impact of invasive alien species and climate change, amongst other factors.

One million animal and plant species are now at risk of extinction in the coming decades.

Billions of families and communities who depend on nature for food, water, and livelihoods are at risk.

Our economies also depend on nature – ecosystem services provide over 100 trillion dollars per year to the global economy -- this is more than one and a half times the size of global GDP.

If we’re to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement, we must reverse this trend now and put nature at the centre of development.

In 2020, this ‘super year for nature’ – we need to take the urgent action to halt the ongoing loss of species.

We need to scale up what is already working.

... See more

Message from Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP

See Ms. Andersen's video message here.

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... See more

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... See more

Message from Ivonne Higuero, Secretary-General of CITES

See Ms. Higuero's video message here.

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 out 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 species, as they are doing today, it is the entire... See more

Message from Elizabeth Mrema, Acting Executive Secretary of CBD

Watch Ms. Mrema's video message here.

Today on World Wildlife Day we celebrate the amazing diversity of wild plants and animals found across the world.

This diversity makes our planet habitable for all species, including our own. From the food we eat to the medicines we need to the air we breathe, biodiversity provides incalculable benefits to all people and sustains livelihoods around the globe.

Yet wildlife and the ecosystems they depend on and maintain are in danger. Unsustainable and poorly managed human activities have put these valuable resources at risk, altering biodiversity and threatening the existence of many species.

The recent assessment report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) highlights the urgency of these challenges. One million plant and animal species - 25 per cent of all known species - are already threatened with extinction. Ecosystems have on average declined by 47 per cent. This jeopardizes the very existence of humans.

But while these numbers are grave, there is hope. We can still reverse the trend of biodiversity loss. This year, the world will come together to act for wildlife and bend the curve on... 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 Jingyuan Xia, Secretary of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)

Today, at the occasion of the World Wildlife Day, the International Plant Protection (IPPC) community joins global celebrations of the world’s wild plants and animals in their varied forms. This year’s celebration falls during the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) 2020, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to increase awareness of the importance of healthy plants of all kinds.

Conserving wildlife on earth means conserving the world’s biodiversity. Hence, protecting wildlife of animals and plants is fundamental for reaching the United Nations 2030 Agenda and many of its Sustainable Development Goals.

Our generation is experiencing a global decline of nature at an unprecedented rate in human history. As ecosystems, species and varieties of plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing, we are eroding the very foundations of our economies, food systems, and life.

When it comes to plants, they are increasingly under threat by pests and diseases, which cause up to 40% of crop losses annually, and over USD 200 billion in economic loss in trade of plants and plant products.

The world’s biodiversity is at risk, with almost a quarter of all species presently at risk of going extinct in the coming decades. According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on... See more

Message from Kent Nnadozie, Secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Today marks World Wildlife Day, a day we celebrate the rich diversity of life on our planet and are reminded that it is our universal duty to take care of mother earth.

Unfortunately, too much biological diversity has been lost in our lifetime, but it is not yet too late. We must act now to conserve what we have left of the wondrous biological diversity and sustain all life on earth.

We must develop stronger actions to preserve the biodiversity of our ecosystems, the species of animals and plants they contain and their genetic diversity.

In the face of biodiversity loss, countries must adopt approaches to development that are less damaging and in harmony with wildlife and natural ecosystems. We all have to work together to avoid the adverse effects of different sectors, use resources in a sustainable manner and maximize the synergies.

Only through coordinated efforts, actions and investments can we protect wildlife and achieve the sustainable development goal of zero hunger. The future development of agriculture and food systems also depends on wild diversity to face the challenges ahead of us.

We join you to mark World Wildlife Day, a day when we should all stop and think of the rich biodiversity that mother earth has provided us, and pledge to do whatever we can to... See more

Message from Grethel Aguilar, Acting Director General of IUCN

Today, more than 30,000 species are threatened with extinction, and the continued loss of wildlife and biodiversity threatens the world’s health, security and wellbeing. The good news is that we have the solution: conserving and restoring nature.

The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day, “Sustaining all Life on Earth”, reminds us that conservation action works – and benefits both people and wildlife. IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species shows time and again that conservation brings imperilled wildlife back from the brink. In our most recent IUCN Red List update, the status of ten species had improved, including the Guam Rail. This bird has recovered despite being declared ‘Extinct in the Wild,’ thanks to the dedicated work of conservationists.

Conservation successes such as these show us that extinction is not inevitable, but now is the time to act if we are to stop the biodiversity crisis that we created.

Word Wildlife Day happens every year, but 2020 provides a unique opportunity. In June, Governments from around the world will come together with civil society and Indigenous Peoples’ organisations at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020 in Marseille to decide what will be done to preserve biodiversity. This will be an important milestone in advance of the much-awaited CBD COP15... See more

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,... 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

Message from Taegan Yardley, student activitst

As a producer of short documentaires on the state of the most critically endangered species on the planet, I was thrilled to learn that the theme of World Wildlife Day 2020 is "Sustaining All Life on Earth". Biodiversity loss is as much of a threat to humanity as climate change.

Plants and animals are disappearing at 1000 time the natural rate due to human activities. Humans have wiped out 60 percent of all animal populations. We have destroyed more than two thirds of our original forests and we have decimated a third of all coral reefs.

There are over 7 billion of us on this planet and that number is expected to increase to 10 billion by 2060. Human overexploitation of nature, including wildlife and biodiversity, is causing imbalances in nature and it is leading to the depletion of our planet’s finite resources.

Education and communication are critically important if we hope to inspire others to embrace change. Amplifying the power of young voices, through documentary making, has provided me with opportunities to not only share my messages with people around the world, it has provided me with a platform from which to address the importance of youth involvement in finding solutions to the problems our planet and its creatures are facing today.

My generation understands the damage... See more