World Wildlife Day
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On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar. World Wildlife Day has now become the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife.
World Wildlife Day will be celebrated in 2019 under the theme “Life below water: for people and planet", which aligns with goal 14 of UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The ocean contains nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may be in the millions. Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at US$3 trillion per year, about 5% of global GDP. 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. As much as 40% of the ocean is now heavily affected by the most significant and direct threat of over exploitation of marine species as well as other threats such as pollution, loss of coastal habitats and climate change.
This is the first World Wildlife Day to focus on life below water. It is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the breathtaking diversity of marine life, the crucial importance of marine species to human development, and how we can make sure it will continue to provide these services for future generations.
As part of The Department of Environmental Affairs’ awareness raising programme, the department in partnership with WESSA, UNDP and the eThekwini Municipality will celebrate World Wildlife Day (WWD) on the 02 March 2019 in Durban at Treasure Beach Environmental Centre. The celebrations will take place under the theme “Life Below Water: For People for Planet”.
WWD 2019 is aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign that seeks to four of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals:
- Goal 4: Quality Education, Ensure inclusive and equitable quality environmental education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
- Goal 13: Improving Ecosystems and protecting the Biodiversity.
- Goal 14: Life below water, which focuses on marine species, and will be an opportunity to highlight the critical issues and values of marine wildlife to our everyday lives.
- Goal 15: Life on Land, human life depends on the earth as much as the ocean for our sustenance and livelihoods.
It is also important to note that DEA has a strong ongoing partnership with WESSA when it comes to environmental awareness and are in the process of looking into formalise this partnership.
Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals, The SDGs can only be realized with a strong commitment to global partnership and cooperation.