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International Biodiversity Day Focuses on Water

IDB22 May 2013: 'Water and Biodiversity' was the theme for this year's International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), celebrated on 22 May, to coincide with the UN designation of 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation.

“We live in an increasingly water insecure world where demand often outstrips supply and where water quality often fails to meet minimum standards. Under current trends, future demands for water will not be met,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day. He add that "biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides are central to achieving the vision of a water secure world." Ban also highlighted that as the international community strives to accelerate its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and define a post-2015 agenda, including a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs), water and biodiversity are important streams in the discussion.

In her message, Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), highlighted the complex web of water-biodiversity linkages, as well as the need for stronger scientific alliances to understand and protect the natural balances on which humanity depends. Naoko Ishii, CEO of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), urged a renewed, energized effort to address growing threats to biodiversity worldwide, and highlighted the GEF's efforts in response to key drivers of biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystem goods and services. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), stressed that "only by taking a holistic approach to effective land and water management, can we preserve biodiversity and achieve food, water and energy security."

Anada Tiéga, Secretary-General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, noted that water and biodiversity are vital for human survival, but today's increasing pressures, such as intense demand for economic growth, continue to take precedence over maintaining healthy wetland biodiversity. He underscored that considerable technical knowledge has already been developed by the CBD, Ramsar and partners to manage land and water better, in order to sustain their benefits for people. He added that the Ramsar Convention provides tools at the international, national and local level to make the link between wetland biodiversity and ecosystem services upon which people depend. Michel Jarraud, UN-Water Chair and Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), recalled that the UN General Assembly (UNGA) declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation to highlight that dialogue and cooperation are the only way to water security, equality, peace and sustainability. On the occasion of the Day, UN-Water circulated a new fact sheet on water and biodiversity.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Director-General Julia Marton Lefevre stressed that IUCN scientists estimate that up to one million species rely on freshwater habitats, and millions more, including human beings, rely on food, freshwater and many other services supplied by such ecosystems. In a press release, the Council of Europe's Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) stressed the interrelation between environmental protection and the sustainable use and wise management of water resources as a matter for all. The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) supported an integrated approach to water management, the improvement of water quality and the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity in several transboundary basins. The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) used the day to highlight the fragility of marine biodiversity.

In a press conference in New York, US, Braulio de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), said biodiversity needs to be seen as part of a ‘win-win' solution for sustainable development, further stressing the importance of thinking beyond traditional engineered solutions in a more integrated, collaborative way to effectively deliver on the MDGs. [IDB 2013 Website] [IDB 2013 Official Messages] [UN Press Release] [UN Secretary-General's Message] [UNESCO's Director-General Message] [GEF's CEO Message] [UNCCD Executive Secretary's Message] [Ramsar Secretary General's Message] [UN-Water Chair's Message] [IUCN Director-General's Message] [Bern Convention Press Release] [CMS Press Release] [UN-Water Fact Sheet: Water and Biodiversity] [UNECE Water Convention Press Release] [Biodiversity Policy and Practice Post on CBD Preparations for IDB]