23rd July 2024

The United Nations (UN) International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD) is commemorated annually on the 22nd of May to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

Issues of biodiversity continue to be crucial matter for discussion on many fronts since the survival of man is extremely and closely linked to it. Biodiversity is the living fabric of our planet, one which underpins human wellbeing in the present and in the future, and its rapid decline threatens nature and people alike.

Addressing Climate Change and avoiding future incidence of pandemics such as the Covid-19 depend, to a large extent, on the manner and ways we handle, and manage biodiversity around us.

It is for this reason that the global community is being called to re-examine our relationship with the natural world and be part of the solution to conserve biodiversity.

This year, IBD will be celebrated under the theme “We’re part of the solution”. The slogan was chosen to be a continuation of the momentum generated last year under the over-arching theme “Our solutions are in nature”, which served as a reminder that biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges.

What is biodiversity?

The word biodiversity, coined from the phrase “Biological Diversity”, recalls lush forests inhabited by uncountable animal and plant species. But that is just a tiny piece of the entire puzzle. Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth at all levels, from genes to ecosystems and can encompass the evolutionary, ecological and cultural processes that sustain life.

Biodiversity includes not only species we consider rare, threatened or endangered, but also every living thing—from humans to organisms we know little about, such as microbes, fungi, and invertebrates. Biodiversity is larger than we can fathom and a world yet to be discovered.

Part of solution?

People all over the world are encouraged to embrace the International Day for Biodiversity and use it as an opportunity to reflect on what biodiversity means to us, how it influences our lives, and how we can be part of the solution.

There is an urgent need for all Ghanaians to contribute to securing biodiversity because it constitutes an important source of sustenance and livelihood for many individuals and households across the country, providing food, medicine and securing our wellbeing.

Unfortunately, all around us, the lush plant ecosystems and teaming wildlife populations around us are vanishing without interest and concern from the general populace.

Several activities are responsible for this unfortunate development, and these include:

  • galamsey leading to forest and habitat loss;
  • illegal rosewood felling and increased charcoal production in the northern parts of Ghana resulting in flora depletion and habitat collapse for most species that depend on these fragile savanna ecosystems;
  • continuous hunting and trade in endangered species like pangolins and other wildlife species leading to the loss of biodiversity in our environment;
  • encroachment of forest reserves by farmers; and
  • conversion of wetlands to other land use forms which deprive fresh water species of their habitat, leading to their depletion.

We can change this downward trend and do more for our environment by taking advantage of the civic duty imposed on us by Article 41 (k) of the Constitution of Ghana. The constitution vests responsibility to care for our environment in every citizen, and we would like to use this opportunity to call on all Ghanaians to rise up to the occasion, to stay vigilant and contribute to addressing the menace in our environment that are destroying our biological diversity as a country.

It is crucial for all citizens to get involved in securing our environment and all the diversity of plants and animals, notwithstanding the challenges, because at the end of the day, we will be at the losing end of the value chain should we lose the biodiversity around us.

As the global community recommits to post-2020 biodiversity framework, we also urge all Ghanaians to do more to protect our environment and particularly contribute to the solution of securing our biodiversity.

We must do this because we have a duty to pass on this magnificent biodiversity and the services they provide to our children and generations after them.

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