Every year, the world marks World Environment Day on June 5, highlighting critical environment issues affecting the planet.
This year’s celebrations themed: ‘Celebrate Biodiversity,’ comes at a time when the world finds itself at crossroads as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc globally.
The pandemic, suspected to have originated from a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, exemplifies how much our interaction with biodiversity can disrupt our lives.
Human activities are increasingly destroying biodiversity and driving species to extinction.
A recent UN report indicates that we are in danger of losing one million species. Disruption of livelihoods, health risks, pollution and climate change are some of the impacts of spanning from this interaction over the years.
Never has the need to recalibrate this interaction been urgent as it is today. As the happenings around the world have showed, our wellbeing is closely linked to the health of the environment, the health of our natural world.
Globally, we have a myriad of multilateral agreements focusing on environment protection, including the Convention on Biological Diversity), UN Convention on Combating Desertification, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change under which the Paris Climate Agreement falls.
At a continental level, African countries are party to a number of agreements, including the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
The African Union Agenda 2063 highlights protection of the environment as one of its priorities, while the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment established in 1985, provides a platform for African environment ministers to advance advocacy for environmental protection on the continent.
But the commitment to follow up these agreements and conventions is key. environmental matters transcends all spheres of life, and as such, a participatory approach is needed to safeguard nature. From civil societies, faith-based organisations, corporates to publics, everyone has a role to play in this.
One of the unique ways of ensuring this success, is through a bottom-top approach, engaging local communities in coming up with solutions to address challenges facing biodiversity protection.