Friday, April 23, 2010

Thousand ways to say biodiversity

by Anna de Polo

What does it mean “biodiversity”? If you could answer to this question with nothing else but rumbling words, no fear! You are in good company. It seems in fact that the European citizens have few and confused ideas about biodiversity. A Eurobarometer survey on the “Attitudes towards biodiversity” reveals that only 38% of Europeans know the meaning of the term, although another 28% have heard of it but do not know its meaning. A majority feel that biodiversity loss is a serious issue, although they do not think they will be personally affected by the decline. This survey makes clear that is necessary to inform the European citizens about this argument and to give them the feeling that the biodiversity conservation does not mean only defence of some exotic dying species, but also actions affecting their own daily life.

For this reason the European Commission launched an awareness raising campaign with the slogan “We are all in this together”.The main trust of the campaign, which coincides with the UN’s designation of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, will be to show citizens the potential implications that the biodiversity loss will have on their lives and the role they can play in preventing this loss. It will be important to stress those aspects of biodiversity that interest people directly, included the agroalimentar diversity, i.e. the variety of plants and animals that feed us. The director of Biodiversity International, Emile Frison, said: «Any discussion of biodiversity conservation and preservation needs to remember that biodiversity of crops and livestock is absolutely fundamental to human survival and well-being».

A promoter of the importance of agroalimentar diversity is Diversity for Life, which is organizing from 19 to 23 of May in Rome, at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, the “Settimana della Biodiversità” (Biodiversity Week). Accademics, scientists, economists, writers, cooks and artists are coming together to inform the public opinion about the rule that agroalimentar diversity plays in improving healthy, in fighting malnutrition, in adapting to climate changes and strengthening the local traditions and identities. The Settimana della Biodiversità activities include conferences, round table discussions, film festivals, photograph exhibitions, science coffees, interactive exhibits, concerts and workshops for children. During this event it is awarding a prize to the winner of the Second Edition of the Contest “ Celebrate the Guardian of Diversity in the Mediterranean Sea”, that acknowledges the contribution of farmers, scientists, activists and others to biodiversity conservation in the Mediterranean Sea.

Biodiversity is the diversity of life, in any of its form and at any level of organization (from the genetic to the ecosystemic one). The variety of the living forms is a treasure for the planet and for its present and future inhabitants, because it represents the way in which nature “diversifies its investments”, protecting itself from climate changes, epidemics, diseases etc. Therefore it’s a heritage to preserve for the well living of us, of our children and of our planet.

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