World Wildlife Day is celebrated by the United Nations on 3 March annually to create awareness about the various species of wild flora and fauna that inhabit the world. The day is also observed to encourage people to help in the preservation of the planet’s biodiversity.
World Wildlife Day aims to highlight how preserving the biodiversity of the planet can benefit human beings. It also calls on countries to curb wildlife crime in their regions and halt the loss of flora and fauna due to activities such as deforestation.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on 3 March, 1973. The convention ensures that “international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.” CITES has 183 member states presently.
The proposal for World Wildlife Day was made in the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP16) held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3 to 14 March 2013. On 20 December 2013, the UNGA, in its 68th session, decided to proclaim 3 March as World Wildlife Day.
The theme for World Wildlife Day 2022 will be "Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration” to highlight the conservation status of some of the most critically endangered species of the planet today. The theme also creates awareness about the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030).
According to the United Nations, over one million species face the threat of extinction today. About 30,000 species of wild flora and fauna have been categorised as endangered or vulnerable. A further 8,400 species have been denoted as critically endangered.
World Wildlife Day is regarded as one of the most significant occasions related to wildlife. The CITES Secretariat marks the day in collaboration with the UN and other global bodies.
The day is particularly significant in its attempt to highlight how saving endangered species is crucial for us. In this year’s message on the occasion of World Wildlife Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that “Beyond a moral duty to sustain the Earth, humanity depends on the essential products and services that nature provides, from food and freshwater to pollution control and carbon storage. By damaging the natural world, we threaten our own well-being.”
Guterres also added that about a quarter of the world’s flora and fauna are facing extinction due to human activities. This can have a severely adverse impact on ecosystems around the world, as even the loss of one keystone species can lead to an entire ecosystem’s decline and death.
The preservation of the world's flora and fauna is also crucial to fulfillment of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.