EACH YEAR, ICIMOD joins the world on the International Day for Biological Diversity to appreciate the worlds rich diversity of living beings. This day provides us with an opportunity to reaffirm our commitments, strengthen our actions, and celebrate our achievements to protect, conserve, and sustainably use biodiversity – the foundation of life on Earth and the basis for sustainable development.
Biodiversity and human wellbeing are inextricably linked. The goods that sustain our lives – food, fibre, timber, and medicine – depend largely on a diversity of plant and animal life. The worlds rich biodiversity is also the basis for a wide array of ecosystem services on which we depend: air and water purification, climate regulation, erosion control, and nutrient cycling.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 40% of the global economy is based on biological products and processes. This includes the economic sectors that drive development, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, pharmaceuticals, and tourism.
A healthy ecosystem, and the biodiversity that forms its foundation, can also increase the resilience of the people who depend on it, particularly vulnerable groups, to withstand, cope with, and recover from disasters.
The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region – located at the convergence of three global biodiversity hotspots: the Himalayas, Indo-Burma, and mountains of Southwest China – is known for its biological diversity.
The regions biodiversity is the basis of ecosystem goods and services that contribute to the regions economic growth and are key to sustaining livelihoods and industries that support more than 200 million people in the mountains and up to 1.3 billion people in downstream river basins and benefit the global community.
However, despite our understanding of its importance, biodiversity at local, regional, and global levels is being depleted at an unprecedented rate to feed a growing human population and an increasingly unsustainable level of consumption. This is further exacerbated by unsustainable development models.
This years theme for the International Day of Biological Diversity reflects the complex and inseparable link between the protection of biodiversity and the sustainable development of our region.
The sustainable use of natural resources is one of the strongest assurances for the protection of biodiversity for long-term social, economic, and ecological benefits, and consequently for sustainable development.
It also recognizes the efforts made at all levels to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including one focused on biodiversity for sustainable development, as part of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda for the period of 2015-2030.
ICIMOD has been an advocate for biodiversity conservation and its sustainable management in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region for decades. Its Transboundary Landscapes Regional Programme has been an important vehicle for promoting conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity in a holistic and integrated manner. Activities under the programme encourage the adoption of conservation-linked livelihood options that contribute to the sustainable development of the region.
Furthermore, ICIMODs HKH Conservation Portal serves as a regional repository of biodiversity and conservation-related information from the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. By providing free and open access to primary biodiversity data and information, ICIMOD facilitates the exchange of knowledge to better understand drivers of change, and thereby develop effective programmes for conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity, and therefore sustainable development.
Healthy ecosystems and biodiversity provide a firm foundation to support sustainable development and resilient communities. In the aftermath of the recent Gorkha Earthquake in Nepal, biodiversity will play a key role in the process of rebuilding – including the homes and livelihoods that were disrupted by the earthquake.
However, emphasis must be placed on ensuring that the process supports in sustainable development, more resilient communities, and responsible use and conservation of the regions biodiversity. This year, and in the years ahead, what Nepal does to recover from the Gorkha Earthquake while building resilient communities and ecosystems can provide valuable lessons for other countries and communities across the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.
ICIMOD would like to urge the people of the region to commemorate the International Day for Biological Diversity by making efforts to build more sustainable societies and economies through the responsible use of biodiversity, to enhance resilience through the conservation of biodiversity, and to raise awareness of the overall value of biodiversity among the public at large.
With best wishes on the International Day of Biological Diversity.