“On this World Wildlife Day, let us raise awareness about the extraordinary diversity of marine life and the crucial importance of marine species to sustainable development. That way, we can continue to provide these services for future generations..” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres
The incalculable value of wildlife
The animals and plants that live in the wild have an intrinsic value and contributes to the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic aspects of human well-being and sustainable development.
World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. At the same time, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime and human induced reduction of species, which have wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts. Given these various negative effects, Sustainable Development Goal #15 focuses on halting biodiversity loss.
Life Below Water: For people and planet
Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG14) aims to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” The theme of World Wildlife Day 2019 is: “Life Below Water: For people and planet” which closely aligns with this goal, with a specific focus on the conservation and sustainable use of marine wildlife.
The ocean contains nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may be in the millions. Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. Marine wildlife has sustained human civilization and development for millennia, from providing food and nourishment, to material for handicraft and construction. It has also enriched our lives culturally, spiritually, and recreationally in different ways.
The capacity of life below water to provide these services is severely impacted, as our planet’s oceans and the species that live within it are under assault from an onslaught of threats. These include the most significant and direct threat of overexploitation particularly unsustainable fishing and other marine species extraction practices but also important threats such as climate change, marine pollution and habitat destruction. These threats have a strong impact on the lives and livelihoods of those who depend on marine ecosystem services, particularly women and men in coastal communities.