International Day for Biological Diversity 2024

The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) 2024 is a day to celebrate the rich, diverse nature of our planet, and underscore the need to combat our biodiversity crisis. After years of human activity, parts of nature have been harmed and destroyed, many of them key to maintaining a balance of biodiversity. 

IDB is a day to raise awareness about the importance of biological diversity, as our foundation for life, and the severity of the biodiversity crisis. It makes mainstream knowledge the need to change actions, collaborate, and halt the decline.

This blog explains how the international celebration began and what it does, and provides a concise 22-year historical overview of the yearly event, detailing its changing focus over time, alongside accomplishments and occurrences on the specific days.

What is International Biodiversity Day?

International Biodiversity Day is an annual celebration of the Earth’s diverse natural biodiversity and crucially highlights the damage we have done to it over the years, and the collective action required to amend this. The planet is in a biodiversity crisis, and this should be emphasised to the public wherever possible. 

It was created during the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993 after the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity), a multilateral treaty with outlined biodiversity objectives. The CBD was an outcome of the Earth Summit event held in Rio de Janeiro and explores how we will protect and enhance the planet’s remaining biodiversity. The date was set as May 22 to hold the annual day of IDB. Every year the day has a different theme to highlight relevant global priorities of biodiversity conservation (with a couple of repeats).

When is International Biodiversity Day 2024?

International Biodiversity Day in 2024 is going ahead on Monday the 22nd of May. The date was selected to commemorate the adoption of the Convention’s text that happened on May 22nd 1992 at the Nairobi Final Act of the Conference.

International Biodiversity Day 2024

Theme: Be part of the Plan

This year, the theme encourages everyone to get involved, highlighting the critical need for collective action to halt the decline of biodiversity. It relates to the addition of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

This framework was not adopted during COP15’s first half in Kunming (China), but in its 2nd half in Montreal (Canada) in 2022, hence its name. It illuminates the necessity for international collaboration around financing and developing the immense environmental agreement. 

International Biodiversity Day History 2002-2023

International Biodiversity Day 2023

Date: Monday the 22nd May, 2023

Theme: From agreement to action: Build back biodiversity

Last year’s theme focused on transcending agreements and plans and verbal confirmations and making tangible and actual contributions towards restoring biodiversity across the globe.

Many events were held in different countries around the world outlining the steps they will take to adhere to the Kunming-Montreal framework: Thailand maintained a fire-break line to mitigate wildlife, Chile and Argentina committed to the vindication, recovery and territorial reconstruction of land, and Côte d’Ivoire agreed to protect the rainforest amongst others.

International Biodiversity Day 2022

Date: Sunday the 22nd May, 2022

Theme: Building a shared future for all life

In 2022, the theme highlighted the need for collective action to combat the biodiversity crisis in order for the livelihoods of current and future generations, as if biodiversity continues along the same declining trajectory we will face a range of struggles such as a lack of food security.

This date fell within the pandemic, so the day’s events to raise awareness were held online, as well as encouraging action. This was achieved with mass online participation, with videos and messages spread globally that promote the conservation of biodiversity. Widespread engagement ensued, as the pandemic constricted people heavily.

Indonesia’s Social Forestry Program, initiatives and private investments committed to saving forests had a huge impact on the environment. Indonesia’s Social Forestry Program granted land titles of around 4.7 million hectares of forests to communities, involving large-scale sustainable forestry management, and involving more than 1.1 million households.

International Biodiversity Day 2021 

Date: Saturday the 22nd May, 2021

Theme: We’re part of the solution

2021’s International Biodiversity Day was spent highlighting the importance of one and all in the collective action required to halt the global decline in biodiversity; individuals and groups.

The pandemic was ongoing, so the majority of events went on digitally, wanting to keep the momentum driving the awareness of the biodiversity crisis and actions needed to halt it. Many individuals posted images holding handcrafted ‘I’m part of the solution’ signs, showcasing if everyone puts work in, we can try and achieve the actions required together.

International Biodiversity Day 2020

Date: Friday the 22nd of May, 2020

Theme: Our solutions are in nature

Sticking with the broader themes, IDB 2020’s “Our solutions are in nature” focus underscores biodiversity conservation and preserving nature as critical in addressing global challenges like sustainable development, health and climate change.

For the first time, affected by COVID-19, this event took place online. Formal videos and written statements were required to ensure avid discussions were held and agreements were consolidated. The day triggered digital events, such as social media projects and the ‘wave of solidarity’ campaign where videos were shared across time zones to emphasise global unity.

International Biodiversity Day 2019

Date: Wednesday the 22nd of May, 2019

Theme: Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health

The theme for 2019, points out that by ignoring the biodiversity crisis we jeopardise our food and health, and the year aims to disseminate this knowledge amongst the mainstream to trigger action. Also, it educates that biodiversity’s essential role extends into medicine, nutrients, and many crucial areas. 

Moving past the pandemic, the day’s events were in person worldwide, with digital activity that spread biodiversity awareness online. It encouraged community engagement by adopting sustainable practices and biodiversity-friendly activities, as well as corporate involvement with companies launching initiatives with green targets and goals (such as sourcing ethical ingredients).

International Biodiversity Day 2018

Date: Tuesday the 22nd of May, 2018

Theme: Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity

This year commemorated 25 years after the CBD (Convention on Biodiversity Diversity) became legally effective in a number of countries. The day celebrated the major strides made since the CBD’s creation and many events were held to explore achievements and ongoing conservation activities.

Many educational initiatives ran such as informative group talks to educate and inform the vast public. Company involvement led to corporate commitments to reduce biodiversity harm and support forward-thinking models of work.

Community projects contributed largely to biodiversity, like indigenous plant species cultivation.

International Biodiversity Day 2017

Date: Monday the 22nd of May, 2017

Theme: Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism

IDB’s themes from here on ahead took a more specific focus, spotlighting areas that require global concentration and attention for biodiversity repair. Sustainable tourism took the stage this year, with the destruction of habitats to make space for hotels, and the increase of pollution by creating populated areas harmful to the rich, diverse wildlife that largely attracts vacationers there in the first place.

Activities around the world encouraged the need for sustainable practices in tourism, and formed guidelines to regulate this, including biodiversity conservation in the initial stages of tourism development. Leading tourism companies also were rightly pressured to adopt sustainable ways of working to conserve habitats. 

International Biodiversity Day 2016

Date: Sunday the 22nd of May, 2016

Theme: Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and their Livelihoods

In 2016, a core goal was to shift biodiversity awareness from niche to mainstream knowledge. Everyone should be aware that we are within a widespread biodiversity crisis that continues to decline. This year aimed to push the integration of biodiversity initiatives into various sectors across the board, emphasising biodiversity as the foundation for life. 

This led to the focus on biodiversity considerations joining into the everyday practices of people and businesses, especially the agriculture and tourism sector, committing to a number of sustainable development targets and green goals.

The increased global awareness catalysed various local communities to collaborate on wildlife conservation, tree planting, sustainable seminars and more. 

International Biodiversity Day 2015

Date:  Friday the 22nd of May, 2015

Theme: Biodiversity for Sustainable Development

This year explores the need for sustainable development, with ongoing development a prolific cause of habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity. It outlined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda for 2015-2030.

Events involved governments, corporate management plans, NGOs as well as local communities, pushing awareness and initiative on multiple levels.

International Biodiversity Day 2014

Date: Thursday the 22nd of May, 2014

Theme: Island Biodiversity

2014 saw the theme of island Biodiversity due to the unique diversity of islands with surrounding marine areas, hosting a majority of endemic species in irreplaceable habitats requiring special conservation efforts. The endemic species in protected areas, native to the island areas, are key to 600 million islander’s economies, cultural identities, well-being and livelihoods, so were given the global focus to make shifts in their conservation. 

An event took place in various locations across the globe, coordinated by the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA). It included presentations on the specific challenges to maintaining island biodiversity and shared helpful guidance on achieving this. Voices from particular islands spoke on how to approach their natural resources sustainably. 

International Biodiversity Day 2013

Date: Wednesday the 22nd of May, 2013

Theme: Water and Biodiversity

2013 was the International Year of Water Cooperation, so IDB’s theme focused on water and biodiversity. It’s not hard to see lush green colourful wildlife when envisioning biodiversity, but 71% of the planet is covered by water, so requires substantial conservation efforts to restore the biodiversity imbalance. 

IDB’s theme pushes this exactly, and the central role of water in aiding the biodiversity crisis, for economic, health and social reasons as well as ecological. They outlined the need for sustainable systems in water source management and tackled key water conservation issues across various global sectors. 

International Biodiversity Day 2012

Date: Tuesday the 22nd of May, 2012

Theme: Marine Biodiversity

Water should be conserved, and its inhabitants require the same attention. The diversity of marine life and the unique variety of aquatic ecosystems were the focus of IDB 2012, as these ecosystems maintain a global ecological balance that our species relies on.

The day sparked various educational events that spread detailed awareness and informed the public. In these, specific actions were pushed that resulted in marine protection, sustainable fishery management, and incorporating marine biodiversity initiatives into key planning stages.

Notably, the ‘Census of Marine Life’ was a decade-long study from 2000-2010 involving 2700+ scientists from 80+ nations. It documented marine species in great detail and created bouts of data that scientists would go on to analyse and learn from in many years following. This new knowledge shaped many policies introduced in IDB 2022 and sharpened our widespread understanding of marine biodiversity importance. 

International Biodiversity Day 2011

Date: Sunday the 22nd May, 2011

Theme: Forest Biodiversity

Focusing on forest biodiversity, IDB explores the importance of forests in the role of biodiversity, and how their conservation is instrumental in challenging the biodiversity crisis. Forests contribute heavily to biodiversity and environmental stability as carbon sinks, habitat providers, food sources and producers of oxygen amongst other critical benefits. 

The events encouraged mass tree-planting and conservational community projects, corporate support of forestry initiatives, special awards like the Forest Heroes Award, economic forums and more. They resulted in broader involvement from governments, stakeholders, corporations and communities. 

International Biodiversity Day 2010

Date: Saturday the 22nd May, 2010

Theme: Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation

IDB in 2010 illuminated biodiversity’s direct link to the economic development of some countries, rooted in socio-economic development. Some of the poorest communities, for example, rely on ecosystem services like fish, fruits, medicinal plants and water from freshwater bodies.

Many efforts were made to change policies and shape strategies for national development with biodiversity considerations. Educational campaigns from institutions and organisations shared how biodiversity’s benefits cause sustainable development which in turn reduces poverty. 

Ecosystem services like pollination and water purification were discussed and the economic benefits they provide in supporting agriculture. Talks led to agreement to action build and work together to stop the decline. This involved maintaining sustainable models of agriculture, as well as many community initiatives to enhance food security and resilience against climate change.

International Biodiversity Day 2009

Date: Friday the 22nd of May, 2009

Theme: Invasive Alien Species

International Biodiversity Day 2009’s theme sheds light on the harm of invasive species on native nature and animals. Key examples of this in the UK are the Japanese knotweed, the grey squirrel outcompeting our native reds and the signal crayfish outcompeting native crayfish, both from North America. 

Workshops, campaigns, policy discussions and expert talks ran globally to delve into the nuances of invasive species and their impact on biodiversity, and the steps that can or must be taken to challenge this across a range of sectors.

International Biodiversity Day 2008

Date: Thursday the 22nd of May, 2008

Theme: Biodiversity and Agriculture

As the name states, 2008 emphasised the interdependence of biodiversity and agriculture. Educational programs around the world explained the need for sustainable agriculture and how to achieve this. Agricultural policies were amended to fit in with sustainability needs to conserve and enhance biodiversity. 

An event in India included traditional agricultural practices combined with modern sustainable practices, in order to contribute towards biodiversity and increase your crop quality and yield.

International Biodiversity Day 2007

Date: Tuesday the 22nd of May, 2007

Theme: Biodiversity and Climate Change

Biodiversity and climate change go hand in hand, and IDB 2007 is dedicated to exploring the links between them to highlight that conserving biodiversity is a key way we will solve climate change. 

Ecosystems play a vital role in mitigating climate change by releasing oxygen and capturing carbon, such as forests, oceans and wetlands. Many of these are destroyed and harmed by years of human activities, so conserving and enhancing ecosystems will massively help nature fight back against climate change.

On the date in 2007 in the UK, one event emphasised peat bogs’ key role in carbon storage, with field visits and activities to demonstrate their importance.

International Biodiversity Day 2006

Date: Monday the 22nd of May, 2006

Theme: Protect Biodiversity in Drylands

This year focused on dryer areas of the Earth which take up a significant portion. This includes arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid land, and these areas inhabit stubborn types of life that have adapted to extreme conditions.

These were showcased in educational talks at events, to highlight the need to protect drylands and the stubborn ecosystems they inhabit. Policies were born to counteract drought and desertification and enforce sustainable strategies of land management. 

International Biodiversity Day 2005

Date: Wednesday the 22nd May, 2005

Theme: Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World

In 2005 there was nowhere near the right amount of widespread knowledge regarding the state of the Earth’s declining biodiversity. This year rightly focused on biodiversity being our life insurance, as losing essential ecological services means we lose our food, clean water and health. 

The central focus was spreading public awareness about the absolute cruciality of preventing continued biodiversity decline, calling out for global participation. 

International Biodiversity Day 2004

Date: Saturday the 22nd of May, 2004

Theme: Biodiversity: Food, Water and Health for All

20 years ago, IDB ran with a focus on the vital systems humans rely on that are challenged by our biodiversity. They aimed to hook and educate the mainstream public about the levity of the situation to encourage action and change. 

A focus this year was on including educational institutions to educate young people and instil the importance of biodiversity to better our future chances. The day made waves around the world and achieved a range of environmental benefits, such as improved ecosystem services like water purification. 

International Biodiversity Day 2003

Date: Thursday the 22nd of May, 2003

Theme: Biodiversity and poverty alleviation – challenges for sustainable development

The theme of this year underscores how enhancing biodiversity can offset poverty by boosting ecosystem services and providing goods like fruit, fish, clean water or medicinal plants. Biodiversity affects us all, but the poorest communities can rely solely on ecosystem services for their livelihoods—so it is absolutely critical to not let this biodiversity be lost to human activity. This would not only jeopardise our species overall but harm specific groups and communities and families.

International Biodiversity Day 2002

Date: Wednesday the 22nd of May, 2002

Theme: Dedicated to forest biodiversity

Like in 2011, IDB 2002’s theme delves into the need for preserving and enhancing our forests as natural protectors of our environment, storing carbon, releasing oxygen, providing habitats and protecting wildlife, reliable food sources and many more. 

The event included stakeholders and governments as well as private companies who had forest conservation initiatives. The day in 2002 led to mass reforestation and afforestation (planting trees to make a forest), recovering biodiversity and enhancing carbon sequestration.

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