Introduction and background
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.
Theme and purposes
“Island Biodiversity” is the theme for this year's IDB celebration. The theme was chosen to coincide with designation by the UN General Assembly of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States.
Islands and their surrounding near-shore marine areas constitute unique ecosystems often comprising many plant and animal species that are endemic and found nowhere else on Earth. They also play a key role in supporting livelihoods, economy, well-being and cultural identity of island inhabitants. Islands and their surrounding near-shore marine areas constitute unique ecosystems often comprising many plant and animal species that are endemic and found nowhere else on Earth.
South Africa, through the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), recently proclaimed the Prince Edward Islands as a Marine Protected Area (MPA). The Prince Edward Islands MPA is South Africa’s first offshore Marine Protected Area, and also the seventh largest MPA in the world.
The Prince Edward Islands MPA will strengthen the protection of the unique and fragile marine biodiversity of the islands.
This country also conducts scientific researches in the Antarctic, Marion and Gough Islands. The DEA is responsible for the day-to-day management and logistical support of the South African research bases in these islands.
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