21 May 2020

CEO speech on International Day of Biodiversity: ‘the realisation’

On International Day of Biodiversity 2020, BirdLife CEO Patricia Zurita explains why a healthy planet should be a new human right.

By Patricia Zurita

On the International Day for Biological Diversity, we proclaim to the world that the solutions to our problems are found in nature. For a society that is so technologically advanced, it sounds like a radical idea, but really, it’s something fundamental that we all know, deep down.

As a virus borne from ‘the wilds’ grinds the gears of the economy – and people’s lives change overnight – the COVID-19 pandemic has become a pivotal moment of realisation for humanity.

Like migratory birds that fly across continents and see no country borders, people around the world are simultaneously realising that human health is completely connected to the health of nature – and that we’re all in this together.

This is something that indigenous communities have always known, modern ecologists have shown, but many others have forgotten.

As governments take drastic action to get a grip on the pandemic, save lives, and reignite economies, 2020 is also the year we all realised that transformative change in our society is possible – and urgent. And compared to the slow (and insufficient) global response to the climate and biodiversity crises, the current crisis shows that change can happen quickly – if there is the will.

The adoption of a new Global Biodiversity Framework has been understandably delayed, but the need for a transformative framework is greater than ever.  We now need a Green Recovery that recognises the importance of nature, that tackles the climate and biodiversity crises simultaneously, and kick-starts an ambitious decade of systemic change that builds resilient economies, healthy communities and a thriving natural world.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

The ground breaking Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies proposed by the European Commission are an encouraging sign that decision makers at the highest levels are finally ready to address the multiple global crisis that threatens our future. They also represent a coherent and comprehensive plan of action that deserves serious consideration across the world.

But we need more, across the world and faster.  Perhaps the way forward is by enshrining a new human right into the Universal Declaration on Human Rights? A universal right to a healthy natural environment, guaranteed by public policies and governed by sustainability, science, and traditional indigenous knowledge.

Just as the original Declaration was forged from the ashes of humanity’s last global crisis, World War 2, we can emerge from today’s crisis with a symbolic and decisive political change. One that shows to the world that our solutions are in nature, and that change must happen, fast.




Watch the speech below