International Day for Biodiversity calls for collective action to protect biological resources

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

As the world celebrates International Day for Biodiversity (IDB), Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment Barbara Creecy, has called on all South Africans to participate in restoring and protecting South Africa’s biological resources.

The United Nations (UN) has proclaimed May 22 as International Day for Biodiversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

This year’s theme, ‘Be Part of the Plan’, focuses on everyone’s commitment to preserve biodiversity and stop and reverse biodiversity loss. 

The department said Cabinet recently approved the White Paper on the Conservation and the Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biological Diversity as the guiding framework, which sets out the goals and objectives aligned with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). 

“South Africa is rich in biodiversity, which is crucial for our ecosystems to function effectively, providing us with clean air, water and medicinal resources amongst the many benefits we derive. The White Paper is a milestone achievement for South Africa, as it is aspirational and advocates for a society where all people have a high quality of life, a voice and a nurturing earth supporting them,” said Creecy.

According to the department, the White Paper also promotes the equitable benefits of biodiversity for South Africa’s current and future generations. 

Strategic objectives have been set, including the improvement of biodiversity management to strengthen the economy, rural development, job creation, and social well-being.

“The IDB celebration complements South Africa’s initiatives aimed at realising the White Paper’s objective for the conservation and sustainable use of our biodiversity to have an inclusive, transformed society living in harmony with nature,” Creecy explained. 

As countries gear up for the 16th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention to Biological Diversity (CBD COP16) to be held in Colombia later this year, the Minister said it was imperative to remind the international community of their commitments to the GBF. 

This includes adequately funding and capacitating developing countries to ensure they can implement their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs). 

The NBSAP includes mobilising the public towards practices that sustain biodiversity’s long-term benefits by incorporating indigenous knowledge and citizen science which are essential to support the sustainable management and use of biodiversity.

“I encourage business, environmentalists, academia and civil society to engage with the policies and strategies to determine how each can contribute to the targets of conserving our precious natural assets. Your actions, no matter how small, can make a significant impact on preserving the diversity of life on our planet for current and future generations.

“Together, let’s celebrate biodiversity and work towards a sustainable future,” Creecy said. –