Messages for World Wildlife Day 2021

Message from António Guterres, Secretary-General of United Nations

The planet’s forests are home to some 80 per cent of all terrestrial wild species. They help regulate the climate and support the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people.

Some 90 per cent of the world’s poorest people are dependent in some way on forest resources. This is particularly true for indigenous communities that live in or near forests.

Some 28 per cent of the world’s land is managed by indigenous communities, including some of the most intact forests on the planet. They provide livelihoods and cultural identity.

The unsustainable exploitation of forests harms these communities and contributes to biodiversity loss and climate disruption.

Every year, we lose 4.7 million hectares of forests – an area larger than Denmark.

Unsustainable agriculture is a major cause. So is global timber trafficking, which accounts for up to 90 per cent of tropical deforestation in some countries. It also attracts the world’s biggest organized crime groups.

The illegal trade in wild animal species is another threat, increasing the risks of zoonotic diseases, such as Ebola and COVID-19.

So, on this year’s World Wildlife Day, I urge governments, businesses and people everywhere to scale up efforts to conserve forests and forest species, and... See more

Message from Mr. Varawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Kingdom of Thailand

"Forests and livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet" is the theme for World Wildlife Day, celebrated each year on 3rd March to commemorate the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973.

Nowadays, we must admit that the tremendous natural and biodiversity imbalance around the world has a significant impact on everyone globally, especially communities that are living with as well as in the forest.

One of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand's key objectives is to make its great effort to protect Thai forests and animals by promoting local participation to develop their way of life to live sustainably balanced with and in the forest.

We defined forest conservation areas and strict forest conservation areas by using innovative technologies and creating local communities' involvement to suppress and prevent forest encroachment.

This will help Thailand to conserve and build forward greener ecosystems for our future generations.


Message from QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Distinguished Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year’s World Wildlife Day highlights the immense value of forests and forest-dwelling wildlife to the livelihoods of the communities based there, and to the well-being of people living much further away. Perhaps never before has it been so important to remember that in order to sustain people and the planet – the theme for this year’s event – forests must be managed sustainably.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of forests to biodiversity, or the extent to which humans depend on both for a wide range of valuable ecosystem services. Forests are home to the majority of life on land – both animal and plant species.

At least 1 billion people rely directly on forests for food in the form of edible plants, mushrooms, insects, fish and wildmeat, and many more depend on them for water, medicine, energy, shelter and income. Given the intricate relationship between humans and forests, the repercussions of upsetting this fine balance are grave indeed.

The past 12 months were a wake-up call to the dangers of stepping out of kilter with nature, as we know that more than 70% of emerging infectious diseases, and almost all recent pandemics, have originated in livestock and wildlife.

Forests have traditionally served as a natural... See more

Message from Inger Andersen, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

Our forests, forest species and ecosystems services play an irreplaceable role in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally.

The unprecedented challenge facing the natural world are in equal measure, a challenge for human well-being. This World Wildlife Day, we must draw attention to the role of sustainable, legal and equitable wildlife trade as a powerful nature-based solution to protect biodiversity, improve livelihoods and protect human health.

Sustainable trade in wildlife trade can improve the resilience of vulnerable communities, particularly in rural and remote areas and incentivize conservation efforts. But as we know, unsustainable utilization and trade are key factors that drive the decline in wildlife. Nearly 20 percent of the IUCN Red List’s threatened and near- threatened species are directly threatened by hunting (Coad et al., 2018). And when global wildlife trade is illegal or unsanitary, there is a greater risk of animal-to-human spillover or zoonotic diseases as is evident in the global pandemic COVID-19.

Equally important is to protect the custodians of the natural world – indigenous peoples and local communities. Comprising less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, indigenous people protect 80 per cent of global biodiversity. We cannot sustain the... See more

Message from Ivonne Higuero, Secretary-General of CITES

Forests are one of the principal sources of life on our planet. They are home to nearly four fifths of all terrestrial species of wild fauna and flora. They are also home to several hundred million people, including countless members of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Globally, up to 350 million people live within or adjacent to forested areas, relying on forests and their species to cover their basic needs, form food, to shelter, fuel and medicines. These groups have long lived in good harmony with their environments, which in turn have become a central part of their social and cultural identities.

These communities also have centuries of experience living from the near limitless ecosystem services provided by forests. They have historically acted as the principal custodians of their lands: just under a third of the world’s surface is managed by Indigenous Peoples, encompassing some of the most well-conserved forests on the planet.

Forest and forest wildlife also provide for the incomes and well-being of countless people that do not necessarily live near them. Worldwide, some 80 million jobs, both in the formal and informal sectors, are directly sustained by forest resources. Moreover, as many as 2.4 billion people use wood-based energy for cooking, both in rural and urban... See more

Message from Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day – “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet” – highlights the central role that forests and forest species play for both the ecological health and functioning of our planet as well as in supporting the lives and livelihoods of people around the world.

Forests are essential for life on earth as we know it. They provide products, food and services for billions of people, support agriculture and jobs, and they are instrumental in the fight against climate change.
At the same time, forests harbour most of the Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity, and provide habitats for 75 percent of bird species and 68 percent of mammal species.

And yet, we are still losing forests at an alarming rate. Agriculture remains the main driver of deforestation, and with a growing population, we need to urgently move food systems onto a sustainable path, by addressing a range of areas including financial incentives, technology, land ownership and land use.

Food insecurity will also put additional pressures on our forests, and on the people, who most directly rely on them. The UN Food Summit taking place later this year will bring a much-needed focus on these issues.

As we have recently learned, human activity is not only... See more

Message from Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary-General of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Forest ecosystems are the place we find most of the Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity, including many unique species. Because forests and trees provide food, materials and so much for people across seasons and years, they also play a crucial role in preventing the poor from sinking even deeper into poverty. In fact, more than 25 per cent of the world’s population rely on forest resources for their livelihoods.

Wild animals are an integral part of this biodiversity. They play key roles and are also an important source of food and clothing, as well as are important for recreation, tourism and cultural uses.
All is not well with forests and wildlife. An estimated 178 million hectares of forest has been lost in the last 30 years, forest-dwelling wildlife populations have shrunk on average by more than half since 1970, and habitat loss and degradation, primarily caused by human activity, is the cause of 60 per cent of threats to forests and forest species.

This loss has ecological consequences and severe socioeconomic impacts. The loss of certain wildlife species can affect forest regeneration, through lack of seed dispersal for some trees, while the loss of key predators can lead to elevated herbivore numbers with consequent damage to habitats.

As Parties to the Convention on... See more

Message from Nemonte Nenquimo, founder Alianza Ceibo

Hello, my name is Nemonte Nenquimo, I’m a Waorani woman and leader of my people in Pastaza, Ecuador.

Right now, I’m sitting at the boundary line of my people’s territory in the Amazon. From here, just upriver, loggers are devastating the forest, cutting down trees and opening up the forest to further resource extraction, agriculture, and destruction.

While from here down river is my people’s ancestral territory. Waorani territory. A place of immense biodiversity where we, Indigenous people, live and protect our territory; where we still have clean water; where jaguars roam along with monkeys and so many other kinds of animals. Such beautiful diversity of wildlife.

For thousands of years my people have lived in this forest, we have protected it and cared for it because this territory gives us life. It gives us our food and our medicine, the things we as Indigenous peoples need to thrive and live happily. Our livelihoods.

And, so, I ask all of you who are hearing my message today - environmentalists, politicians, human rights activists - to join our fight to protect this place and invest in Indigenous peoples on the frontlines so that we may leave this inheritance for our children and yours; so that future generations may know such biodiversity and experience an unspoiled and... See more

Message from Robert Nasi Managing Director, CIFOR-ICRAF; Director General, CIFOR

The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day could not be more appropriate. The profound link between human wellbeing and nature has been the way of life for Indigenous cultures around the world and forests and trees are central to this link.

And science is finally catching up. At CIFOR-ICRAF, we have spent decades investigating the connections between ecological integrity, sustainable use of forests and landscapes and human wellbeing, providing the evidence required to manage our forests, mangroves and peatlands sustainably but also to fully recognize the crucial role of trees on farms and outside of forests.

The devastating Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated indisputably the need for a science-based, transformative approach to managing landscapes that recognizes Indigenous knowledge. There is ample evidence that land cover changes resulting from ecosystem fragmentation and degradation are major drivers of the emergence or re-emergence of zoonotic diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, Ebola or Lyme disease. The lesson nature is telling us is loud and clear.

The global challenges we now face, from biodiversity loss and environmental degradation to accelerating climate change, broken food systems and inequality, all demand urgent action. Here again forests and trees... See more

Message from Albert Lotana Lokasola, Founder & President of Vie Sauvage

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would first like to remind you that the world is currently going through a biodiversity crisis but also the aggravation of poverty in our traditional environments.

As you know, nature, our lands and our forests have always been the answer to our problems of existence and survival. But the question that we can now ask ourselves is what we are doing to ensure that this nature conservation offers our communities opportunities for employment and sustainable economic growth.

As far as we are concerned, we at Vie Sauvage, in the Bonobo Kokolopori Nature Reserve and in the corridor that surrounds it and which we call 'La Foret de Paix de Bonobo' (the Bonobo Peace Forest), we have managed to attract the attention of the international community to help us with conservation and sustainable development programs.

So, we have in Kokolopori a scientific mission from Harvard University which is studying the behavior of bonobos, which employs people, pays wages and buys from the community, thus creating a monetary economy in an environment as far removed as ours.

By protecting the bonobo and its ecosystem, we have succeeded in creating two technical colleges, the Higher Institute of Rural Development of Djolu and the Higher Institute of Medical Techniques of Djolu, the... See more