Message by António Guterres to the International Day to World Wildlife

Every year, we lose 4.7 million hectares of forests – an area larger than Denmark.

The planet’s forests are home to some 80 per cent of all terrestrial wild species.

They help regulate the climate and support the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people.

Some 90 per cent of the world’s poorest people are dependent in some way on forest resources.

This is particularly true for indigenous communities that live in or near forests.

Some 28 per cent of the world’s land is managed by indigenous communities, including some of the most intact forests on the planet.

They provide livelihoods and cultural identity.

The unsustainable exploitation of forests harms these communities and contributes to biodiversity loss and climate disruption.

Every year, we lose 4.7 million hectares of forests – an area larger than Denmark.

Unsustainable agriculture is a major cause.

So is global timber trafficking, which accounts for up to 90 per cent of tropical deforestation in some countries.

It also attracts the world’s biggest organized crime groups.

The illegal trade in wild animal species is another threat, increasing the risks of zoonotic diseases, such as Ebola and COVID-19.

So, on this year’s World Wildlife Day, I urge governments, businesses and people everywhere to scale up efforts to conserve forests and forest species, and to support and listen to the voices of forest communities.

In so doing, we will contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for people, planet and prosperity.

Speech by
Author
António Guterres
Secretary-General of the United Nations
Sec-gen
UN entities involved in this initiative
FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
IFAD
International Fund for Agricultural Development
ILO
International Labor Organization
IOM
International Organization for Migration
ITU
International Telecommunications Union
OCHA
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
UNAIDS
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
UNEP
United Nations Environment Programme
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UNHCR
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund
UNIDO
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
UNODC
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
UNOPS
United Nations Office for Project Services
WFP
World Food Programme
WHO
World Health Organization