On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to proclaim 3 March, the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as World Wildlife Day, which was proposed by Thailand, to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora.
In its resolution, the General Assembly reaffirmed the intrinsic value of wildlife and its various contributions, including ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic, to sustainable development and human well-being.
The General Assembly took note of the outcome of the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, held in Bangkok from 3 to 14 March 2013, in particular Resolution Conf. 16.1 designating 3 March as World Wildlife Day, in order to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora, and recognized the important role of CITES in ensuring that international trade does not threaten the survival of species.
The General Assembly requested the CITES Secretariat, in collaboration with relevant organizations of the United Nations system, to facilitate the implementation of World Wildlife Day.
The UN World Wildlife Day is celebrated on 3 March 2017 (WWD2017) under the theme “Listen to the young voices.”
According to the United Nations Population Fund, some 1.8 billion people, or nearly one-quarter of the world’s population, is aged between 10 and 24, the age range defined by the United Nations as “youth”. Yet, concerns have been raised about trends in youth’s environmental attitudes, beliefs and behavior, suggesting a decline in personal responsibility for wildlife conservation and environment as a whole among the youth.
CITES Secretary-General, John E. Scanlon, said “Given the current rate of poaching and smuggling, will future generations one day speak of elephants, rhinoceros and many other endangered species as we speak of mammoths: magnificent creatures belonging to the past? We must not and will not allow this to happen”.
“It is the responsibility of each generation to safeguard wildlife for the following generation. We have not yet succeeded in securing the future of the world’s wildlife. Meeting this challenge will now be shared with the next generation. To succeed we must fully harness the innovation and energy of youth, and combine it with the wisdom that comes with experience, if we are to make the change we need to happen. We are confident that some of the youth will dedicate their lives to the conservation of wildlife which is such a great cause, yet our hope is that all the youth will be personal ambassadors for wildlife conservation — which is key to our future survival: people, animals and plants. This is the message behind the theme ‘Listen to the young voices’”, added Scanlon.
WWD2017 gives us a new opportunity to provide incentives to the youth to tackle conservation issues. It is also an opportunity for them to engage with one another and together forge an inspired path to a better world. The youth can also express themselves in shaping demand reduction strategies to curb illegal wildlife trade for the future, and debate issues around the ecologically sustainable use of wildlife and how one can ensure local benefits.
More information can be found on the official website of UN World Wildlife Day.