WOAH Director General
Biodiversity is a diversity of living species on Earth in all its forms. It constitutes what is also called nature and wildlife is an integral part of it, like humans. Biodiversity plays a vital role in maintaining healthy and functioning ecosystems, which greatly benefit humans, providing supply services, cultural services and regulatory services. Preserving biodiversity is therefore compulsory in order to continue to benefit from all these services which are vital to us all. In the past 50 years, which is an extremely short period, the population size of vertebrate species has decreased by 68%.
40% of amphibian, 25% of mammals and 14 of birds are in danger of extinction. Biodiversity is threatened today by human activities. Overharvesting is one of them and includes certain forms of wildlife trade. Unregulated, unsustainable harvest, use and trade of wildlife can pose threats to animal health and welfare, with detrimental impacts on species conservation and biodiversity and serious implications for public health. The risk of disease emergence and spillover has been amplified by a steady increase in the level of interaction between humans, wildlife and domestic animals.
This trend must be stopped. The World Organization for Animal Health aims to influence the safety of wildlife trade by creating and sharing capacity, standards, guidelines and best practices to protect people, domestic animals and wild species. WOAH has therefore an important role to play when it comes to ensuring that trade in wild animals and animal products is legal, sustainable, traceable and safe. However, managing the health and conservation of wildlife is a task that needs integrated and collaborative leadership at the international level. CITES is a main actor for wildlife conservation, and WOAH works closely with them.
A working program has been developed for this purpose between the two organizations, a plan which is not exclusive to partnerships with other international organizations and stakeholders involved in wildlife conservation. Thanks to an inclusive partnership for wildlife conservation, we'll better contribute to protect biodiversity, to address more broadly the environmental crisis and to present in the future the next pandemic. We must reconcile human and nature. I wish you a happy World Wildlife Day.