Published on 21 May 2021
This 22 May we celebrate the International Day for Biodiversity. This year's slogan for 2021, 'We are part of the solution', reminds us all of the role we have to play in working together to protect nature, restore ecosystems and achieve a balance in our relationship with the planet. We have much to gain. By reversing the loss of biodiversity, we can improve human health, ensure sustainable development and address the climate emergency.
It is the combination of life forms and their interactions with each other and the rest of the environment that has made the Earth a unique and habitable place for humans. Biodiversity provides many of the goods and services that sustain our lives. Yet biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, under increasing pressure. We are using up resources faster than nature can replenish them.
Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres (2020)
Approximately 60% of all infectious diseases in humans are zoonoses, i.e. they reach us through animals. Recent zoonoses include Ebola, avian influenza, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Nipah virus, Rift Valley fever, Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), West Nile virus, Zika virus disease and now coronavirus.
Alterations of ecosystems by human activity are clearly among the factors responsible for the emergence of zoonoses. The pandemic that has so disrupted our lives for more than a year now is, according to Inger Andersen, the director of the United Nations Environment Programme, a warning. To cope and protect against future global threats, we need to take every measure to ensure sound management of medical and chemical hazardous waste, strong global stewardship of nature and biodiversity, and a clear commitment to building back better, creating green jobs and facilitating the transition to carbon neutral economies. Humanity depends on action now to ensure a resilient and sustainable future.
On this occasion, we invite you to (re)discover the STEREO projects that have a direct link to biodiversity conservation: