Solid Stuff hails and supports World Wildlife Day

IT might be just another ‘international day of…’ like almost every day on the global calendar year: too many to keep track of; too many to observe. And yet. To us at Solid Stuff Creative, observing this particular one seems like a no-brainer.

We are passionate about wildlife.

Check out some of our favourite pictures from our own collection at Solid Stuff Photography, which we are sharing in celebration of World Wildlife Day 2017.

World Wildlife Day logo

Above is the official logo of WWD, which is observed by all 183 United Nations Member States; and below is a selected collection of thoughts on this year’s theme, as well as the institution in general.

“Listen to the Young Voices”

The onus rests on young shoulders… but are they ready?

ON 19 December last year the theme for World Wildlife Day 2017 was announced in Geneva as ‘Listen to the Young Voices’. The announcement was made by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Secretariat, who is the global facilitator of the Day as designated by the United Nations General Assembly.

This occasion is annually observed world-wide on 3 March.

Some of the questions that invariably arose upon taking note of the theme, are ‘what are these voices currently saying? Are the sounds they are making in line with the desperate need to conserve and preserve our natural heritage? Are they ready and willing to take on the massive responsibility – soon?’
Gigantic efforts are needed to inform and encourage young people who will soon be stepping up as the next generation of decision-makers and pace-setters, in order for them to feel motivated and driven to protect endangered wildlife at both local and global levels.

But are they interested?

Noteworthy is the fact that according to the United Nations Population Fund around 1.8 billion people, representing almost a quarter of the world’s population, are between the ages of 10 and 24 – which is the age range defined by the United Nations as “youth”. However, there is concern about apparent trends in the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour of the youth regarding the environment. In general it would seem as though there could be a lack of interest and a rather low sense of responsibility for wildlife conservation and the environment.

This will have to change, if we do not want our descendants to refer to elephants and rhinos as we speak of mammoths and dinosaurs.

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.

Will they get involved?

“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’”, Scanlon said.

It is encouraging to learn that the ‘engagement and empowerment of youth’ is a priority to the United Nations. It is an objective that is being pursued through youth programmes of various UN system organisations, as well as by the dedicated Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth.

The very first CITES Resolution on ‘Youth Engagement’ was adopted only in September last year at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17) in Johannesburg. This resolution calls for ‘greater engagement and empowerment of youth in conservation issues’.

An excerpt from the media statement issued by the facilitator reads as follows:

“World Wildlife Day 2017 encourages youth around the world to rally together to address ongoing major threats to wildlife including habitat change, over-exploitation or illicit trafficking. Youth are the agents of change. In fact, we are already seeing the positive impacts on conservation issues made by some young conservation leaders around the world. If they can help make a change, you can too!

“Governments, law makers, enforcement officers, customs officials and park rangers across every region are scaling up their efforts to protect wildlife. It is also up to every citizen, young and old, to protect wildlife and their habitats. We all have a role to play. Our collective conservation actions can be the difference between a species surviving or disappearing.

“It’s time for us all to listen to the young voices.”

Previous themes

The respective themes of the WWD’s of 2015 and 2016 were “It’s time to get serious about wildlife crime” and “The future of wildlife is in our hands”, with a sub-theme to the latter being “The future of elephants is in our hands”.

Observing World Wildlife Day

World Wildlife Day (WWD) is observed by all 183 UN Member States.
The purpose thereof is “to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora”. The date that was decided upon, to be commemorated annually, is 3 March.

According to a Wikipedia entry it started like this: On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) decided to proclaim 3 March as World Wildlife Day in response to a proposal by Thailand. This is also the date of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

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 Wikipedia entry further states:

“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 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”.

Does anyone or anything benefit?

It really depends on your attitude towards the cause of protecting, conserving and respecting your and my natural heritage.

Here is a thought-provoking excerpt from the United Nations webpage:

World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. At the same time, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.

Wildlife has an intrinsic value and contributes to the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic aspects of sustainable development and human well-being. For these reasons, all member States, the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, non-governmental organizations and individuals, are invited to observe and to get involved in this global celebration of wildlife. Local communities can play a positive role in helping to curb illegal wildlife trade.

“Listening to the young voices”

Engaging and empowering the youth is the call of the 2017 UN World Wildlife Day. 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.

Habitat loss, climate change and poaching are among the most alarming challenges faced by wildlife today. Poaching and trafficking of wildlife is now the most immediate threat to many species, whether charismatic or less known. The fate of the world’s wildlife will soon be in the hands of the next generation. The pressing need for enhanced action to ensure the survival of wildlife in its natural habitats must be imparted from generation to generation, and the youth should have the opportunity to communicate the conservation goals to a wider society.

With 183 Member States, CITES remains one of the world’s most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation through the regulation of trade in wild fauna and flora.

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