Message from the Director General

Celebrating the World Environment Day

(5 June 2010)

 

The World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5 every year gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the state of our environment. This year’s theme for World Environment Day, ’Many Species, One Planet, One Future‘, builds on the theme of the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB), ‘Biodiversity is Life, Biodiversity is our Life’. These themes point towards the urgency to protect, raise awareness, and better manage the planet’s natural resources.

The Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region is among the most fragile and biodiversity-rich areas in the world. The biodiversity significance of the region has been realised by the countries sharing the region, and their commitment to protect and conserve biodiversity is well reflected in the establishment of 488 protected areas covering 39% of the region’s geographical area. However, protected areas alone are inadequate to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, since there are various drivers of change such as population growth, climate change, excessive use of resources by poor and marginalised people, land use change, external market forces, and globalisation that threaten the biodiversity of the region. Conserving the biodiversity resources together with the promotion of sustainable use is vital, especially for poor and marginalised mountain communities who depend almost entirely on biodiversity resources for their daily livelihoods.

ICIMOD’s approach to biodiversity management is in line with the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and focuses on large-scale conservation and planning at the landscape level. ICIMOD's landscape approach in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region looks into the linkages among the ecological, socio-cultural, and economic dimensions that support environmental and socioeconomic resilience. The culture and tradition of people in the region plays an important role in managing the biodiversity. Among many traditional practices, use of herbal plants is of great significance and contributes more than 80% of the medicinal requirements of the rural people. These traditional knowledge, practices, and cultural values have often been ignored. There is a strong need to orient our future generation, especially children towards the importance of these herbs and their uses.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), together with the Private and Boarding Schools’ Organization of Nepal (PABSON), join the world in celebrating the World Environment Day on 5th June. As a part of the celebrations, ICIMOD and NTNC are organising a ‘Promoting Herbal Garden in Schools’ competition among schools in the Kathmandu valley, Nepal, supported by PABSON. Through this we will help to raise awareness about, and popularise the use of, commonly available and frequently used herbal plants, as well as helping to conserve the associated knowledge for future generations. The posters prepared by the students based on their gardens will be displayed at the 10th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at Nagoya, Japan.

We hope that the World Environment Day will help to increase awareness and motivate students and their family members to recognise the importance of the traditional knowledge that helps maintain health and sustain biodiversity for future generations.

With best wishes,
Andreas Schild