Protecting Our Lifelines: Call to Action on International Biodiversity Day 2024

On International Biodiversity Day, celebrated annually on May 22, the Rivers and Forests Alliance and the Global River Protection Coalition (GRPC) join the United Nations in calling for action to reverse biodiversity loss worldwide. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, also known as the Biodiversity Plan for Life on Earth, as adopted on May 22, 1992, during the Convention on Biological Diversity, is a comprehensive plan for global biodiversity conservation.

Biodiversity Matters

Biodiversity encompasses all living beings, from humans to animals to microbes, fungi, and invertebrates, and the ecosystems they inhabit. It includes the processes that sustain life, such as evolution, ecology, and cultural practices with essential needs like food (fish supply 20% of the animal protein consumed by 3 billion people worldwide, and over 80% of the human diet comes from plants), shelter, fuel, and medicine, particularly where traditional plant-based medicines are the primary healthcare resource for 80% of rural populations in developing countries. Reversing the loss of biodiversity is critical to all life on Earth. This global crisis demands our immediate attention and action.

The Urgency of Protecting Freshwater Biodiversity

Freshwater ecosystems are among the least protected natural features, leading to disproportionate losses in freshwater biodiversity. According to the 2022 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, one-third of freshwater species are threatened with extinction due to pressure from dams, overuse, pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change.

Our Commitment and Call to Action

Our mission to advance global free-flowing river conservation policies that protect and restore riverine connectivity, biodiversity, and rivers’ essential ecosystem services aligns with the urgent need to implement the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. On this International Day for Biodiversity, the GRPC commends the heroic efforts already underway to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems. Healthy rivers are critical for sustaining biodiversity and ecosystem services, and we must prioritize their protection.  Our coalition of scientists, academics, advocates, and conservation practitioners from around the globe is dedicated to the permanent protection and stewardship of the world’s rivers and the biodiversity of riverine ecosystems. This day underscores the opportunity to build momentum for conservation and restoration.

A Global Call to Action: Be Part of the Plan

“Be part of the Plan” is the theme of International Biodiversity Day 2024.  As we look ahead to the sixteenth meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 16) in Colombia from October 21 to November 1, 2024, we urge all stakeholders — governments, NGOs, local communities, businesses, and individuals — to take immediate action to meet the global goals for halting and reversing biodiversity loss and protecting freshwater ecosystems following the Principles of Free-flowing River Protection, Restoration, and Management to inform such actions.

Your actions, no matter their scale, can make a significant difference in preserving our planet’s biodiversity for present and future generations. Let us embrace this call to action and work together to ensure the health and vitality of our rivers and the biodiversity they support. We are all #PartofThePlan.

Signed by Global River Protection Coalition members:

Dr. Denielle Perry

Co-chair, Global River Protection Coalition

Associate Professor, Northern Arizona University School of Earth and Sustainability, United States

 

Vanessa Correa Roldán, MSc.

Co-Chair, Global River Protection Coalition

Researcher, Museum of Natural History, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Peru

 

Shannon Farley

Executive Director, Rivers and Forests Alliance (RAFA), Costa Rica

 

Dr. Sergio A. Salinas-Rodríguez

Regional Mesoamerica/Latinamerica Co-chair, Global River Protection Coalition

Associate Professor, The Southern  Border College (El Colegio de la Frontera Sur), Mexico

 

Dr. Silvia Lopez-Casas

Freshwater Ecosystems Specialist, Wildlife Conservation Society (Andes, Amazon, Orinoco region)

 

Dr. Emily Hite

Regional North American Chair of Global River Protection Coalition

Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Saint Louis University (St. Louis, MO), United States

 

Dr Olga Laiza Kupika

Africa Region Co-chair of Global River Protection Coalition

Senior Research Fellow, Okavango Research Institute University of Botswana

 

Dr. Annah Mabidi

SADC Region Co-chair, Global River Protection Coalition

Senior Lecturer, National University of Science and Technology, Department of Environmental Science, Zimbabwe

 

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