Messages for World Wildlife Day 2020

Message from Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP

This year, World Wildlife Day focuses on Sustaining All Life on Earth. This is an opportunity to raise urgent awareness about the plight of nature, the plight of wildlife, and what this means for human wellbeing and the planet.

Science tells us that nearly one million out of the nearly 8 million species on our planet face the threat of extinction. We are losing species at an average of 1000 times the natural extinction rate. This is a catastrophe we simply cannot afford.

In 2020, the Super Year for Nature, we have a real chance to bend the curve on nature loss.

Far too much of our economic growth, food production, urbanization and resource extraction has come at the expense of wild spaces. We know for example that 70% of our tropical forests face degradation from unsustainable land conversion. And frankly where wildlife and wild spaces persist, the cost of maintaining them is borne by poor communities but the benefits accrue to us all.

This must change. The true value of nature must be accounted for in our economic models. We need to be creative and innovative in funding for sustaining wild spaces.
And we need to step up our support of sustainable trade in wildlife.

This is why instruments like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of... See more

Message from Ivonne Higuero, Secretary-General of CITES

We are extremely fortunate to count on the presence of an endless diversity of wild animals, plants, and other lifeforms that together make up life on our planet.

Humans around the world benefit every single day from wildlife. In many ways, our history is the story of our species’ interaction with, and adaptation to, the diverse lifeforms present in our close vicinity. Since time immemorial, we have used wild plants and animals for out most basic needs: from the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the materials we use for shelter and comfort.

The human well-being and prosperity that is derived from the direct exploitation of wildlife, habitats and ecosystems should not be to the detriment of the building blocks of a rich and diverse biosphere. The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) was agreed in 1973 to avoid this by regulating international trade in wildlife and ensure that this trade is legal, sustainable and traceable.

More and more, however, the unsustainable exploitation of wild fauna and flora and their ecosystems is threatening their survival. Every single piece of the puzzle of life is essential and losing even the smallest of these pieces leaves us, and the entire planet, poorer. When human actions endanger hundreds of thousands of... See more

Message from Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of IPBES

Sustaining all life on Earth is an appropriate theme for World Wildlife Day during the ‘2020 Super Year for Nature’ because biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are quite literally the bedrock on which all human development and well-being are grounded.

In 2019, the IPBES Global Assessment sounded the alarm: one million species of plants and animals are threatened with extinction in a matter of decades. Our natural world is being destroyed at a rate unprecedented in human history.

In 2020 we must choose better, evidence-informed policies, and fundamentally transform our relationship with nature to ensure a healthy planet for every person.

Wildlife is so much more than the obvious charismatic and exotic species. Wild plants and animals, and the spaces they occupy, are the building blocks of human well-being and vital for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

I thank CITES for its crucial work in protecting endangered species and all those who raise their voices to speak up for the future we want.

We look forward to continued collaboration with the CITES community, particularly on the current IPBES assessment of the sustainable use of wild species.

Sustaining all life on Earth is as much about self-interest as altruism, as much about people as nature.