UNGA, UN Secretary-General, and CBD Mark International Mother Earth Day
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In commemoration of International Mother Earth Day, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) held an interactive debate on harmony with nature.

The dialogue included a panel discussion featuring scientific experts who explored the changing relationship of humankind with the natural world from the perspectives of their specialized disciplines.

22 April 2012: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) hosted an interactive dialogue on harmony with nature to commemorate International Mother Earth Day and to inform ongoing preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). Officials also offered statements on the Day itself to stress respect for nature, the importance of the UNCSD, and the role of indigenous and local communities (ILCs).

Opening the dialogue on 18 April 2012, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, UNGA President, said future work on a new sustainable development paradigm “should be supported by a globally recognized and coherent science base.” He called on scientists to help guide this new paradigm with findings that reveal the negative impacts of human activities on the planet, from biodiversity loss to climate change, with particular attention to the regenerative capacity of these natural systems. A panel discussion featuring scientific experts explored the changing relationship of humankind with the natural world, from the perspectives of their specialized disciplines.

International Mother Earth Day is celebrated annually on 22 April, and promotes a view of the Earth as the entity that sustains all living things found in nature, honoring the Earth as a whole and the place of humans within it. In his message released on International Mother Earth Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to “use Rio+20 to promote better respect for nature and to cultivate an environment — natural and social — in which all children feel safe and all people can prosper. Mother Earth belongs to us all; Rio+20 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that all of us must seize.”

A message from Braulio Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), highlighted that the Day is an acknowledgement that the Earth and its ecosystems provide its inhabitants with life and sustenance, further recognizing humanity’s collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature and to achieve a balance among the needs of present and future generations. Underscoring that Mother Earth is a common expression among many indigenous peoples, Dias noted that the concept is in harmony with the ecosystem approach, one of the pillars of the CBD. He added that the Day is an opportunity to draw attention to the role of ILCs and their traditional knowledge in safeguarding biological diversity. [International Mother Earth Day Website] [UN Webcast] [UN Press Release] [UN Interactive Dialogue Summary] [UN Secretary-General’s Message] [CBD Executive Secretary Statement]

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