22 May is the International Day for Biological Diversity

The future of humankind is closely linked to biodiversity: it provides us with our livelihoods and brings joy in our lives.

The word biodiversity recalls lush forests inhabited by countless animal and plant species. Life, thanks to its blind determination, blossoms in a myriad of stunning environments: from deserts and volcanoes to mountains covered up by perennial ice. The most extreme and inhospitable ecosystems can host animals and plants that adapted in the name of survival.

Biodiversity, a world yet to be discovered 

Our knowledge of the animal and plant kingdom is extremely limited: more than 700,000 species have been discovered and studied so far, but scientists think existing species are likely to exceed 12 million. Sea is a still unexplored world: oceans represent about two-thirds of the earth surface, but we only explored 5 per cent of them. Unimaginable monstrous yet beautiful creatures hide down there, in a foreign, dark and cold world, with no humans. Yet, our knowledge of the species we share the Planet with risks to remain fragmented as 50 per cent of the living species could become extinct by the end of the century due to our impact.

Celebrating the Convention on biological diversity

On the 22nd of May we celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity, established by the United Nations in 1993 on the first anniversary of the adoption of the Convention of Biological Diversity (1992). The 2019 theme is Our biodiversity, our food, our health. “From individual species through entire ecosystems, biological diversity is vital for human health and well-being,” in the words of UN Secretary General António Guterres. “The quality of the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe all depend on keeping the natural world in good health”.

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The inestimable value of biodiversity

However, judging biodiversity only on our interests would be wrong and superficial. Let’s imagine forests without wolves’ night-time primordial howl, seas without the mysterious migrations of eels, the sky without the swallows’ inventive flight paths, the profile of a mountain without the sinuous silhouettes of chamois, and a pond without the sound of tree fogs’ croaking. Life wouldn’t be possible without animals and plants, and, even if it would be, it wouldn’t be worth living.


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