World Wildlife Day 2020 was celebrated this year under the theme ‘Sustaining all Life on Earth’, highlighting the unique place of wild fauna and flora as essential components of the world’s biodiversity, as well as a key pillar of livelihoods for people, particularly among communities that live close to nature. The events also came as part of what has been dubbed the ‘biodiversity super year’.
The Significance of World Wildlife Day
On 20 December 2013, the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3rd March as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. The date is the day of the signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973. It is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the various challenges faced by these species.
The Loss of Biodiversity on Earth
Research by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) says up to a million species could disappear in the coming decades if the unsustainable human activity, climate change and habitat degradation are left unchecked. Raising awareness of this alarming trend and driving discussions towards solutions to bend the curve of biodiversity loss through conservation and sustainable use were the goals of this year’s World Wildlife Day celebrations.
In his message for this World Wildlife Day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “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 sustainable relationship with nature. A world of thriving biodiversity provides the foundation we need to achieve our Sustainable Development Goals of a world of dignity and opportunity for all people on a healthy planet.”
Why 2020 is a Crunch Year for Biodiversity
This is a “super year” for the environment—a make or break year in which key international meetings will set the tone and agenda for environmental action in the decade ahead. 2020 is being called the biodiversity super year because of the decisions that can be taken at key international gatherings throughout the year. In addition to important moments for decision-makers, including the COP 15 on Biodiversity, the 2020 “super year” is a major opportunity to bring nature back from the brink.
The year was kicked off in February by the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) held in Gandhinagar with the theme: “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home.”
Major Events and Activities Celebrating WWD2020
The Ambassador of India to the United Nations in New York, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, the CITES Secretary-General, the President of the Wildlife Conservation Society, and a representative of rural communities in Colombia provided opening remarks at the event at the UN Headquarters in New York, stressing the significance of the day and of this year’s theme.
Photographic competitions in Accra, Ghana; a symposium in Bhopal, India; a forum on crocodile conservation in the Philippines; reforestation days in Nicaragua; giant billboards promoting World Wildlife Day across the United States on billboards; and the lighting of the Empire State Building in New York, all together honoured the day.
Raising Awareness through Wildlife Films and Art
For the fifth year running, one of the World Wildlife Day activities was co-organized with Jackson Wild™ and featured a film showcase based on the year’s theme – bringing to the screen some gripping stories centred on biodiversity and the interaction between people and wildlife – to raise awareness of the threats weighing on our world’s wild fauna and flora.
Another artistic highlight was the international World Wildlife Day youth art contest organised with the support of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and which called on school-age and youth artists to illustrate the day’s theme through their art.
Beyond these two official events, many organizations and civil society groups celebrated the day through their own events around the world. All in all, people around the world passionate about wildlife and biodiversity joined in on the World Wildlife Day celebrations and took the time to show their appreciation for the value of wild fauna and flora for people, planet and prosperity. In India alone, 28 such events were organized on 3rd March 2020.