published on 22 May 2019 in life

International Day for Biological Diversity

The International Day for the Biological Diversity (IDB), proclaimed by the United Nations 1993, when the Convention of Biological Diversity agreed in Nairobi came into force, is held on 22 May each year. For several decades now, experts have shown that biological diversity is an indispensable resource for the planet and an immeasurable wealth for local economies. To date 1,700,000 living species have been described, including animals, plants and micro-organisms belonging to the various kingdoms, but experts speculate that there may be as many as 13,000,000. A large proportion of species could be hiding in the oceans, which from the point of view of biodiversity are a real treasure trove still largely unknown. Although water covers two-thirds of the planet’s surface, we have explored only 5% of it. Yet there is also another factor to take into account when we count the number of species on the planet: by the end of the century, 50% of living species in fact risk extinction and it is precisely in order to raise our awareness on this issue that the International Day for Biological Diversity was established.

“Our Biodiversity, Our Food and Our Health” is the theme chosen this year for the International Day for Biological Diversity. This theme focusses on thinking about the relationship between protection of species on the one hand, and food, human health and food security on the other. As a report by FAO recently highlighted, today 75% of human food is obtained from 12 plants and 5 animal species: even if the range of food products on offer is expanding in many nations, the food products that we buy and eat are increasingly more uniform. Added to this situation is the worrying loss of pollinators, threatened by pesticides and parasites, and ever more exposed to the consequences of climate changes. Basing world food supplies on a limited number of high-yield and genetically uniform plants and animals is a practice that puts food security and human health at risk. Loss of genetic diversity, in fact, makes us less able to face up, in the best possible way, to the challenges posed by climate changes.

International Day for Biological Diversity 2019, one of the partners of which is Slow Food, aims to celebrate the biological and cultural diversity of the Planet, making the most of traditional knowledge, rediscovering products that undergo little processing as well as almost forgotten crops, which are an alternative to excessive simplification of the variety of goods that we eat.

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