World Wildlife Day – 3 March 2021

On 20 December 2013, the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3 March as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. The date is the day of the signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973. World Wildlife Day has quickly become one of the most prominent global annual events.

The theme of World Wildlife Day 2021, "Forests and livelihoods: sustaining people and planet", seeks to shed light on the links between the state of our planet’s forests and woodlands and the preservation of the millions of livelihoods that depend directly on them, paying particular attention to the traditional knowledge of the communities who have managed forest ecosystems and its wildlife for centuries.

Covering nearly a third of the planet’s land surface, forests and woodlands are key pillars of human livelihoods and well-being.

Over 800 million people live in tropical forests and savannahs in developing countries. Indigenous and rural communities have a particularly close relationship with these natural systems. They rely on them to meet their essential needs, from food and shelter to energy and medicines, but they also maintain a strong personal, cultural and spiritual relationship with these environments. Indigenous people and local communities are also historic custodians of the planet’s most important reservoirs of biodiversity, including forests.

The ecosystem services and resources forests and woodlands provide, from filtering and storing freshwater to ensuring the fertility of soils or to regulating the climate, are essential to the global economy and to people everywhere. Yet forests are now at the crossroads of the multiple planetary crises we currently face, from climate change, to biodiversity loss and the social and economic impacts of the current global pandemic.

CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero said: "Forests and woodlands have an important environmental role and provide essential services for hundreds of millions of people. They sustain the resources so many communities around the world rely on for their livelihoods, as well as the broader food security, climate regulation and economic stability for the entire world. Celebrating these livelihoods and seeking to learn from those who live directly from and within forests will allow us not only to highlight the critical importance of forests for humanity and for the planet, but also to discuss how we can make our relationship with them and all the wildlife species they harbour more sustainable."

The Day also aims to drive discussions towards establishing a sustainable model of interaction between humanity and one of its most important natural providers, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Goal 1 (No Poverty), Goal 2 (Zero hunger), Goal 12 (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns), Goal 13 (Climate Action) and Goal 15 (Life on Land).

2020 Award Winners and Runners-UpWorld Wildlife Day - 3 March 2021 (1.01 MB)

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