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World Environment Day

5 June

The United Nations designated 5 June as World Environment Day to highlight that the protection and health of the environment is a major issue, which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world. The celebration of this day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment.

The year 1972 marked a turning point in the development of international environmental politics, with the first major conference on environmental issues, known as the Conference on the Human Environment, or the Stockholm Conference. Later that year, on 15 December, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/2994 (XXVII)) designating June 5 as World Environment Day and urging “Governments and the organizations in the United Nations system to undertake on that day every year world-wide activities reaffirming their concern for the preservation and enhancement of the environment, with a view to deepening environmental awareness.”

UNESCO has an important track record in advancing ecological sciences through pioneering work on ecosystems, biosphere reserves, capacity building, scientific assessments and policy briefs to assist decision-makers in managing natural resources sustainably. UNESCO mobilizes the knowledge, know-how and practices of local communities and indigenous peoples to support their inclusion in environmental decision-making. Its World Network of Biosphere Reserves demonstrate ways to safeguard natural ecosystems and biodiversity through science, education and participatory approaches while promoting innovative economic development that is environmentally sustainable and socially and culturally appropriate.

Messages Panels and webinars Art for biodiversity UNESCO stories and actions


"Over the past year, the environmental crisis has revealed itself in a spectacular and disturbing manner. While wildfires ravaged tropical rainforests as if they were arid savannah, dramatically highlighting the effects of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic has cast yet another harsh light on the crisis affecting biodiversity. The pandemic has allowed us to observe what scientists the world over have been saying for years: the interdependence between humanity and biodiversity is so profound that the latter’s vulnerabilities are our own. This health crisis is a warning that we must heed collectively: we must now fundamentally rethink our relationship with the living world, with natural ecosystems and their biodiversity. Together we must construct a new pact with the living world. This is an immense work in progress. It will require a broad consensus, both technical and ethical. UNESCO is one of the places where such a consensus can be built."

—  Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, on the occasion of World Environment Day 2020

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Message from the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada,



In this period of pandemic, the President of Costa Rica presents his country's ecological and social actions. Public education, universal healthcare, renewable energies... he invites us all to act for biodiversity:
"The moment is now: an exemplary Costan Rican model proves that yes - we can generate well-being and preserve biodiversity through nature-based solutions."


Go to: Messages | Panels and webinars | Art for biodiversityUNESCO stories and actions

biodiversity 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



SEAMEO - UNESCO Joint Webinar "COVID-19 Effects on Biodiversity: Science Education Reimagined"

Webinar Registration 

Date: 5 June 2020 I 10.00-11.30 hrs (time in Thailand, UTC/GMT +7)    
How: Participants will need to pre-register at the link provided in the SEAMEO Secretariat website and official social media channels.  The link to the webinar platform shall be emailed to all registered participants.  
Registration Link


  •  To promote environmental awareness and education for sustainable development  
  •  To share existing initiatives and efforts at the national and regional level to promote biodiversity, and ecosystems/environment.  
  •  To explore educational solutions for promoting biodiversity in the new normal and discuss recommendations on Post-COVID-19 rehabilitation initiatives.



    Opening remarks by Benno Boer, UNESCO (pdf)



    Contact Details  

    Art for biodiversity

    To mark the celebration of World Environment Day, the European Broadcasting Union has invited artists to mark the impact of the environment and nature on music, with a range of initiatives in partnership with UNESCO. One of the highlights will be the premiere of a re-versioned work - Prayer and Blessing - by world-renowned composer, conductor, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Tan Dun during a special radio programme that will be broadcast on Friday.

    List of participating radios 

    On World Environment Day 2020, Tan Dun, Chinese composer and conductor, who was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in March 2013 for "his efforts to promote intercultural dialogue through music, raise awareness of the scarcity of natural resources such as water, and the diversity of languages” reminds us that the links of interdependence between humanity and biodiversity are so strong that its vulnerability is our fragility.




    Artists from 12 countries around the world came together virtually during the COVID 19 crisis to produce this artistic performance live from New York and Shanghai, conducted by Tan Dun.




    A l'occasion de la Journée mondiale de l'Environnement 2020, Jean Michel Jarre, Ambassadeur de bonne volonté de l’UNESCO réaffirme sa position en tant qu'artiste en faveur de l'environnement et dans la lutte contre le changement climatique.


    Go to: Messages | Panels and webinars | Art for biodiversityUNESCO stories and actions

     MAB Youth stories

    These stories on the importance of biodiversity from the perspective of young people in biosphere reserves were prepared by the Youth Network of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. In this article, representatives from around the world give us an insightful overview of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Read all of the stories