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World Wildlife Day focusing on marine species for the first time

The United Nations World Wildlife Day (WWD) 2019 being celebrated on Sunday, March 3, is for the first time in history focusing on marine species.

Marine wildlife
Marine wildlife

This is following the decision of the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), who are working in partnership to facilitate the global celebration of the WWD 2019, which has “Life below water: for people and planet” as its theme.

The WWD 2019 aligns closely with the Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life below water, which focuses on marine species and, according to the UN, is an opportunity to highlight the critical issues and values of marine wildlife to our everyday lives. The occasion is also celebrating successful initiatives to conserve and sustainably manage these species, and to scale up support for future initiatives.

Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme, notes: “Oceans regulate our climate, produce half the oxygen we breathe, provide nourishment for 3+ billion people, and absorb 30% of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere and fully 90% of the heat from climate change. To ensure that oceans and marine species are preserved and protected, nature-based solutions that bring together public, private and civil society partners need to be replicated and scaled-up.”

David Morgan, Officer-in-Charge of the CITES Secretariat, said: “All whales and dolphins, all marine turtles, all seahorses, many coral species, and more and more shark species have been put under the protection by CITES – the world’s wildlife trade regulator.

For marine species, CITES is at the interface between sustainable use and international trade for fisheries, working to ensure that trade in marine species listed under the Convention is legal, sustainable and traceable. CITES plays a well-targeted role in advancing implementation of SDG 14 with trade-related measures combined with effective compliance procedures.”

WWD 2019 is being marked by a series of events and media activities around the world, including a high-level event that held at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, March 1.

As part of these activities, CITES and UNDP also partnered with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival to organise an international film showcase focusing on marine species – “Living Oceans Film Showcase”. The Film Showcase helps to raise global awareness of the importance of life below water to everyday lives, explore the critical challenges facing marine ecosystems, and highlight inspiring solutions.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare is also hosting a youth art contest to engage school-aged children and help them build a sense of connection with the marine world.

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