Raising biodiversity awareness

Raising public awareness of biological diversity
Increasing public appreciation, education and awareness of the value and importance of biodiversity, and public involvement in its conservation and sustainable use.

Developing and implementing targeted public awareness programmes for groups of people such as decision- makers and politicians; business executives; consumers; non-governmental organisations; children; and those in rural and urban areas who are reliant upon the use of biological resources. Such programmes will take into account people's understanding of biodiversity and their local environments, foster an appreciation of local knowledge of biodiversity, establish clear links between biodiversity conservation and community health and welfare, and will describe conservation actions that can be taken by specific groups.

Encouraging organisations engaged in researching, managing or conserving biodiversity to popularise their work, to disseminate information about biodiversity, and develop or strengthen biodiversity education and interpretative programmes in such places as protected areas, natural history museums, zoos, aquaria, botanical gardens, public open spaces, and community centres.

Support the further development of outreach programmes which enable people to have access to nature and the experiences associated with nature. Encourage those in the public eye, such as television and radio commentators, news editors, advertisers, entertainers, artists, sportsmen and women, religious leaders, politicians, and corporate executives, to popularise biodiversity and the actions needed to conserve it. Use a variety of delivery mediums (e.g. radio, television, newspapers, electronic networks), to distribute information about biodiversity. Support and encourage improved training and professional development for teachers, extension officers, and others involved in building awareness about biodiversity. Promote the involvement of interest groups and communities in research, management and development activities relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Strengthen coordination between those involved in increasing awareness about biodiversity, including educational institutions, government departments, natural history museums, businesses, conservation groups and other non-governmental organisations.

Daily life has to be linked to the complex notion of biodiversity. The relation between the loss and conservation of biological diversity and personal behaviour is often far from clear. Practical behavioural alternatives have to be presented to all people who want to make a change in lifestyle. It is essential to praise all behavioural changes, whether small or large.

To transform the concept of biodiversity from a top-down concept into a bottom-up one, governments need to link biodiversity with personal contexts. Research needs to be done to define peoples interests, and ways to link the issue of biological diversity to these interests. Biodiversity needs to be communicated in an inviting way, using language that is appealing to 'ordinary people'.

Many of the pressures and threats on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity have their origin in human perceptions, attitudes and behaviour. Biodiversity conservation will be difficult to achieve if the actors involved are not aware of the problems affecting biodiversity and their possible solutions. Changing these factors requires long term concerted efforts in education and public awareness.

High expectations of national programmes aimed at changing lifestyles are often not met, since lifestyles are personal and cannot be changed at a national level. Programmes should not suggest an ascetic lifestyle and loosing comfort, but should be positive in looking for alternatives without living in a less comfortable way.

Public awareness is essential to ensure the success of many actions in favour of biodiversity, e.g. a consumer policy promoting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Therefore, public awareness campaigns are the main instruments available to achieve the [Convention on Biological Diversity] objectives In all these aspects NGOs play a very important role.
1. It takes a big step from being aware of your impact on the environment to taking actions to protect the environment in your day-to-day life.

2. Past efforts to improve public awareness and appreciation of the importance of biodiversity have frequently been culturally biased, focusing largely on the value systems of the affluent. Thus a narrow interpretation of biodiversity has predominated, directed at the need to preserve endangered species and maintain protected areas rather than at the broader development context which makes biodiversity relevant to all the people who are dependent upon biological resources to fulfil their basic needs. This has been aggravated by the inaccessibility of protected areas to the poor, leading to the perception that conservation is elitist and irrelevant to the majority of people.

3. The conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity must become an issue of concern and meaning to people of all ages and in all walks of life: from decision-makers through to communities in rural areas and youth in cities.

Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions