Biodiversity, the incredible variety of life on Earth that sustains us, is in peril. Species are becoming extinct at the fastest rate ever recorded. Most of these extinctions are tied to human activities that are polluting and depleting water resources, changing and degrading habitats and altering the global climate. From frogs to gorillas, from huge plants to tiny insects, thousands of species are in jeopardy.
The theme of this year’s World Environment Day, “Many Species. One Planet. One Future”, echoes the call of the International Year of Biodiversity to stop this mass extinction and raise awareness about the vital importance of the millions of species that inhabit our planet’s soils, forests, oceans, coral reefs and mountains. Our health, well-being and sustainable future depend on this intricate, delicate web of ecosystems and life.
The global host of the 2010 World Environment Day celebration is Rwanda. This small country in the Great Lakes region of Africa is rapidly earning a reputation as a green pioneer. Home to 52 threatened species, including the rare mountain gorilla, Rwanda is showing how environmental sustainability can be woven into the fabric of a country’s economic growth. Despite its many challenges, including poverty and widespread land degradation, the “land of a thousand hills” is working to reforest, embrace renewable energies, pursue sustainable agriculture and develop a green vision for the future.
This year, Kigali will be the heartbeat of a global, multicultural, intergenerational celebration of our planet, its millions of species and the countless ways in which life on Earth is interconnected. On World Environment Day, I appeal to everyone – from Kigali to Canberra, from Kuala Lumpur to Quito – to help us sound the alarm. Get involved, speak out. Learn and teach others. Show leadership and help clean up. Reconnect with nature, our life force. Together, we can develop a new vision for biodiversity: Many Species. One Planet. One Future.