World Wildlife Day: UN celebration of animals and plants on 50th anniversary of CITES


orld Wildlife Day is a United Nations international event celebrated annually on March 3.

It’s an opportunity to celebrate the world’s wild animals and plants and the role they play in our lives and the planet’s health.

The theme for this year’s World Wildlife Day is Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation.

World Wildlife Day is celebrated on March 3 because it is the birthday of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. CITES was signed in 1973, which means it celebrates its 50th anniversary today.

But what are its aims and how can you take part in recognising the day?

Pledge to reduce extinction rate

Speaking ahead of World Wildlife Day, Csaba Kőrösi, the UN General Assembly President, said in a statement that the UN had adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

He said: “This agreement shows a strong sense of solidarity with future generations of humanity, but also towards our environment, our flora and our fauna. It has reignited hope.

“The parties pledged, that by 2050, the extinction rate and risk of all species are reduced tenfold. I can only commend the resolve of this commitment, but we should not rest on our laurels now.”

Kőrösi went on to say: “We must do our utmost to implement it as best we can. For that, we need to resort to our most powerful tool – building broad networks and fostering far-reaching partnerships.

“Partnership is the key to rebuilding degraded areas and restoring healthy environments.”

Curbing wildlife-related crimes

The UN president added: “It is also crucial in curbing wildlife-related crimes to successfully protect biodiversity. Indigenous communities must be included in these partnerships.

“But, if we really want to see change, we must boost conservation and protection funding, too. We have to enhance our co-operation with the financial institutions and the private sector. Your views do matter, and we need you to voice your concerns, ideas, and proposals.”

‘We must end this war on nature’

Meanwhile, António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, said in a statement: “On World Wildlife Day, we reflect on our responsibility to protect the magnificent diversity of life on our planet. And we recognise our abject failure.

“Human activities are laying waste to once-thriving forests, jungles, farmland, oceans, rivers, seas, and lakes. One million species teeter on the brink of extinction, due to habitat destruction, fossil-fuel pollution, and the worsening climate crisis. We must end this war on nature.

“The good news is that we have the tools, the knowledge, and the solutions.”

He said: “As this year’s theme – Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation – highlights, we need to work across governments, civil society, and the private sector to turn commitment into action. And we need much bolder actions now to cut emissions, accelerate renewables, and build climate resilience.

“Throughout, we need to place the voices of local communities and indigenous people – our world’s most effective guardians of biodiversity – front and centre.

“Today and every day, let us all do our part to preserve natural habitats and build a thriving future for all living beings.”

How can I take part?

To find put how you can get involved, visit the website. Suggestions involve taking part on social media, with hashtags such as #PartnershipsforConservation #WWD2023, and #WorldWildlifeDay, or upload a video clip to show how you’re getting involved.

You can also watch a live video link of the celebrations taking place today (March 3) in Washington DC, US.

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