Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem
26 July 2018
Mangroves, located in tropical regions where land and sea meet, form unique ecosystems whose benefit for human beings, the environment and biodiversity are considerable.
Mangroves constitute protection from storms, tsunamis and rising sea levels. They prevent shoreline erosion, regulate coastal water quality, maintain fishing areas and contribute to improving food security for many coastal communities. They also provide a habitat for endangered marine species. In addition, their natural mechanisms for storing atmospheric carbon, known as “blue carbon sinks”, help mitigate the effects of climate disruption along coasts.
Yet today, the mangrove ecosystem is seriously threatened. It is estimated that global coverage of mangroves has been halved in 40 years, largely as a result of coastal development.
Through its biosphere reserves and geoparks, which include mangrove forests in various parts of the world, such as the Sundarbans between India and Bangladesh, one of the planet’s largest mangrove forests, UNESCO is actively working to add to knowledge about this unique ecosystem, and improve its management and preservation. This commitment is also intended to further the sustainable development of indigenous communities and to promote the role of women, who are at the heart of the local economy.
The UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is moreover a stakeholder in a major global project, the Blue Carbon Initiative, undertaken in conjunction with Conservation International and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The purpose of the Initiative is to combat the effects of climate change by working for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable use of coastal and marine ecosystems, focusing on mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses.
This International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem is an invitation to renew our efforts to support the preservation of an ecosystem that is vital for our planet and its inhabitants. The commitment of Ecuador, whose initiative the International Day was, and which is doing outstanding work in the Archipiélago de Colón – (Galápagos) Biosphere Reserve, should be a source of inspiration.