Statement on World Wildlife Day - 3 March 2019
World Wildlife Day
February 28, 2019
Did you know that every second breath we take is thanks to microscopic ocean plankton who produce half of the oxygen on earth?
To date, scientists have identified over 240,000 marine species in the ocean, and we continue to discover around 2,000 new species every year, from fish to cetaceans to molluscs.
Imagine that just one litre of seawater may contain 38,000 different kinds of microbes.
The ocean, and the incredible biodiversity it contains, provides critical services every day to every member of our society, from food security to genetic resources to regulating global climate – to providing the oxygen we breathe.
Yet, despite our dependence on it, marine wildlife faces multiple threats including, the ‘triple threat’ of climate change, causing ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation.
5 to 12 million tonnes of plastic now enter the ocean every year, threatening the health of countless species - from the smallest zooplankton to the largest whales.
90% of large predators have already been taken out of the ocean by overfishing, some 30% of fish stocks are overexploited, and over 500 hypoxic areas have become ‘dead zones’ uninhabitable for most species.
To reverse this, a literal ‘sea change’ is required in how we manage both ocean and land-based activities, across sectors ranging from fisheries to agriculture to waste management.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the United Nations family and many partners, is doing its part: innovating, piloting, and scaling-up nature-based and technology-based solutions that safeguard our oceans while leveraging new opportunities for strengthened community livelihoods and sustainable economic activity.
As we celebrate World Wildlife Day this year, and its theme “Life below water: For People and Planet,” let’s recognize the extraordinary importance of a healthy ocean to human wellbeing and prosperity, and commit to a sea change in how we manage responsibly its precious and priceless resources.