International Day for Biological Diversity
The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. When first created by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly in late 1993, 29 December (the date of entry into force of the Convention of Biological Diversity), was designated The International Day for Biological Diversity.
In December 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted 22 May as IDB, to commemorate the adoption of the text of the Convention on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act of the Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity. This was partly done because it was difficult for many countries to plan and carry out suitable celebrations for the date of 29 December, given the number of holidays that coincide around that time of year.
South Africa became a party to the Convention on the 31st January 1996. Since then it has become our responsibility to fulfill requirements in terms of the Convention, one of which includes the celebration of International Day for Biodiversity, on the 22nd of May every year.
This year’s theme reflects the importance of efforts made at all levels to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda for the period of 2015-2030 and the relevance of biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development.
The selection of the theme also underlines the adoption of the Gangwon Declaration, by ministers and participants to the High-level Segment of the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Gangwon Declaration welcomed the importance given to biodiversity in the outcome documentof the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and called for the further integration and mainstreaming of biodiversity in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Environmental Affairs (DEA) celebrates IDB in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality
This year, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) celebrates IDB in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality, located in KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. uMgungundlovu comprises of 7 local municipalities with an overall population of just over a million people. It is home to the famous Duzi Canoe Marathon, and Midmar Mile. However, it is the natural commodities of this area that really makes this district stand out. It is the chosen area for several biodiversity and local government initiatives, due to its rich and complex natural environment with valuable, live-sustaining resources.
A number of local biodiversity initiatives take place in the district, in an effort to solve the water security issues and to promote a culture of sustainable development in the catchment for both people and ecosystem benefits. In 2013, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in partnership with the Department of Water Affairs, Umgeni Water, and Water Service Authorities of the uMgungundlovu District and Msunduzi Local Municipalities, formed the Umgeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP).
The High-level Security Dialogue was held on the 25th of November 2013 at the uMgeni River Estuary Green Hub in Durban with key role players which culminated in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by 16 founding partners. Other initiatives include “Save the Midmar Dam” Project with water authorities, WWF and South African Pulp and Paper Industry (SAPPI) and the WESSA “Working with Traditional Leaders in the uMgeni Catchment” which focuses on using Ecological Infrastructure for poverty eradication and improving livelihoods. This area is also the focus area for several international projects such as the GEF 5 Biodiversity Municipal and Stewardship Program and the UN Urban LEADS Program which focuses on Biodiversity and Climate Change adaptation.
Launch of the new Environment Sector Local Government Support Strategy approved by MinTech on 28 March 2014
The IDB celebration this year includes the launch of the new Environment Sector Local Government Support Strategy (approved by MinTech on 28 March 2014) in keeping with the theme of sustainable development as it is through local municipalities that all the national strategies and action plans are actually implemented on the ground, with measurable activities and outcomes. For some time, Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have been exploring ways to enhance the partnership between local municipalities and national government, as local governments present a crucial opportunity to take a leading role in biodiversity conservation as the level of government closest to the people and most directly responsible for taking action.
The Local Government Support Strategy provides a platform for a more coordinated and structured mechanism of dealing with sustainable environmental management in local government. This launch will highlight the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity into local government as currently, biodiversity is not seen as a service essential to improving everyday life and as a result, very little is done to protect or promote the sustainable use of biodiversity at a local level. To this effect a bilateral meeting was held between the Directors General of the DEA and COGTA (July 2011) seeking to address the objectives on environmental sector mandates of local government, which is also in direct response to the resolutions made at a Local Government Indaba on Environment (July 2009).
Focus on United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) international project titled: “Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Land Use Regulation and Management at the Municipal Scale”,
Focus for this year's IDB celebrations is also on a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) international project titled: “Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Land Use Regulation and Management at the Municipal Scale”, in which South Africa (SANBI being the Implementing Partner) was recently, awarded the opportunity to take part in through The Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The findings of this project directly recognizes several objectives of the Local Government Support Strategy, as itidentifies theneed to strike a balance between development and job creation, and conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity at a local level and uses four district municipalities across South Africa including the uMgungundlovu District.
The project aims to address biodiversity challenges by (a) strengthening cooperation, coordination and capacity of municipal and other regulatory authorities that regulate land use decisions to incorporate criteria to avoid/ prevent, minimize and/or offset impacts on biodiversity, and improve compliance monitoring and enforcement, and (b) introducing mechanisms in collaboration with private and communal land owners to better protect critical biodiversity areas and manage land, while demonstrating the potential of biodiversity to create jobs and contribute to economic growth
Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson to host International Day for Biodiversity
On Friday, 22 May 2015, the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, will celebrate International Day for Biological Diversity in the Msunduzi Local Municipality, located in KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. The United Nations proclaimed May 22 as International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.
Biodiversity for Development celebration theme resources:
Biodiversity: The foundation for sustainable development [PDF - 1.16 mb]
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) website