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22 May: World Biological Diversity Day

Every year, May 22 is observed as International Day for Biodiversity or World Biodiversity Day. This date commemorates the date of Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity at UNEP Headquarters, Nairobi on 22 May 1992. In 2000, UN General Assembly via resolution 55/201 decided to celebrate World Biodiversity Day on May 22 instead of December 29, which was previously designated as International Biodiversity Day.


The theme for 2017 for World Biodiversity Day is “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism”. The theme is in sync with the observance of 2017 as “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development” as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly. UN has already declared 2011-20 as United Nations Decade on Biodiversity to support and promote reducing the loss of biodiversity.

About Global Biodiversity

The term Biological Diversity was first coined by wildlife scientist and conservationist Raymond F. Dasmann in 1968. This term became widespread in use during 1980s. Biodiversity refers to the “totality of genes, species and ecosystems of a region”. There are three levels of biodiversity viz. species diversity, ecosystem diversity and genetic diversity.  The term biodiveristy is used to address several problems in conservation of environment including loss of species, destruction of habitats, invasive species, genetic pollution, over exploitation and effects of climate change on biodiversity.

The spatial distribution of organisms, species and ecosystems is called Biogeography.  Biodiversity is unequally distributed on Earth and it varies across regions on the basis of climatic and geographical factors. On earth, highest biodiversity is found in tropics. In comparison to Oceans, terrestrial biodiversity is much greater. It is estimated that there are 8.7 million species on earth of which 2.1 million live in Oceans while rest are terrestrial. The terrestrial biodiversity is greater at equator in comparison to poles. Around 90% of world’s biodiversity is found n tropical rainforests which occupy less than 10 percent of Earth’s surface. The marine biodiversity is highest along the coasts in the Western Pacific which is known for highest sea temperature. Around 70% of World species are found in 12 countries viz.  Australia, Brazil, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico and Peru.


February 6: International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is observed every year on February 6 to raise awareness of the practice of FGM and work towards its elimination. It is sponsored by UN,

2017 Theme:Building a solid and interactive bridge between Africa and the world to accelerate ending FGM by 2030”.

What is FGM?

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Globally, it is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM. It cause severe bleeding and health issues including infections, cysts,  infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn deaths. It reflects deep-rooted gender inequality and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. The practice also violates their rights to health, physical integrity, security and their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and right to life. The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) calls for an end to FGM by 2030 under Goal 5 on Gender Equality, Target 5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.


UN declares 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has declared the year 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

The declaration recalls the potential of tourism sector to advance the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Key Facts
  • The International Year aims to support a change in business practices, policies and consumer behaviour towards a more sustainable tourism sector that can contribute effectively to achieve targets of the SDGs.
  • It will promote tourism sector’s role in five key areas: (i) Inclusive and sustainable economic growth (ii) Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction (iii) Cultural values, diversity and heritage (iv) Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change (v) Mutual understanding, peace and security.
  • Tourism is under three targets of the SDGs: They are (i) Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. (ii) Goal 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production and (iii) Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
  • The tourism sector accounts for 7% of worldwide exports, 10% of the world’s GDP and one in eleven jobs. If managed well, it can foster inclusive economic growth, social inclusiveness and protection of natural and cultural assets.