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International Day for Biological Diversity

22 May

Biodiversity is the living fabric of our planet. It underpins human wellbeing in the present and in the future, and its rapid decline threatens nature and people alike. According to the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released in 2019 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) at UNESCO, the main global drivers of biodiversity loss are climate change, invasive species, over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution and urbanization. The Global Report demonstrated the responsibility of human activities in the loss of biodiversity, which amounted to 75% for terrestrial ecosystems. This assessment also indicated that solutions existed and that it was not too late to act.

To halt or reverse this decline it is vital to transform people’s roles, actions and relationships with biodiversity. Many solutions exist: UNESCO’s diverse networks, programmes and partners have observed positive and inspiring seeds of change around the world. UNESCO also accompanies Member States and their people in their efforts to halt biodiversity loss by understanding, appreciating, safeguarding and using biodiversity sustainably.

Now is time to act for biodiversity! The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

This International Day is part of the year 2020 defined as a super year for biodiversity with major events planned (and for most postponed to a later date) such as the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity or the UN Biodiversity Forum.

The theme of the 2020 International Day for Biological Diversity is “Our Solutions are in Nature”

It shows that "Biodiversity remains the answer to a number of sustainable development challenges that we all face. From nature-based solutions to climate, to food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity remains the basis for a sustainable future." (CBD, 2020)


"Every year, in late May and early June, UNESCO celebrates three major international days which are an important opportunity to consider together the three systemic pillars of climate change: biodiversity, the environment and the oceans. This year, at a time when the world has been struggling with an unprecedented pandemic for many weeks, these days are the occasion to remind us once again that it is only with a cross-cutting and ambitious approach that we can build a more ecologically-sustainable future. Of these three pillars, it is without doubt biodiversity that has been the most talked about in these recent weeks of widespread lockdown. The retreat into the private sphere and the desertion of most public spaces have temporarily blurred the sharing of space between humans and other species. "

—  Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, on the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity

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Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of the Republic of Costa Rica for the International Day for Biological Diversity.


In this period of pandemic, the president of Costa Rica recapitulates his country's history in terms of ecological and social actions. Public education, universal healthcare, renewable energies...he invites us to continue the fight:

"The moment is now: an exemplary Costan Rican model proves that yes - we can generate well-being and preserve biodiversity through nature-based solutions."

biodiversity day expert panels: our solutions are in nature

The COVID 19 pandemic revealed how fragile our world is. Scientists and many other voices are raising, including political, from private sector and civil society calling for transformations and breaks with processes that are destroying the living fabrics of the planet, creating unacceptable inequalities and threatening our common future and that of the younger generations. UNESCO invites us to reflect on these issues on the occasion of the International Biodiversity Day by setting up online dialogues and conversations between experts, our networks, in particular our sites and youth networks, our private sector partners and artists. 

A few questions:

  • What is your view, what are your thoughts on the crisis we're going through?
  • What changes are required of us? What are the opportunities to be seized?
  • What practices should we give up?
  • What has become unacceptable?
  • What can we do to make change (and which change) happen?
  • What obstacles can we encounter?
  • What strengths and allies do we have to get through this and move forward?


Some speakers:

  • Eduardo Brondizio, Co-chair of the IPBES’ 2019 Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
  • Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Serge Morand, CNRS-CIRAD Researcher, ecologist and evolutionary biologist
  • Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, UNESCO
  • Raphaël Mathevet, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) Research Director
  • Alice Roth, Founder and vice-president of the Co-MAB association



     MAB Youth stories for the International Day of Biological Diversity 2020

    In order to celebrate International Biodiversity Day in 2020 on 20 May, the Youth Network of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme has prepared a set of stories on the importance of biodiversity from the perspective of young people in biosphere reserves. In this article, representatives from around the world give us an insightful overview of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Read all the stories