One week before the 1st ever UN Summit on Biodiversity (NYC, 30 September), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and its Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and New York Aquarium have joined the European Commission Global Coalition for Biodiversity, calling for stronger mobilization in communicating about the nature crisis facing the planet.

Called “United for #Biodiversity”, the coalition was launched by EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius in Monaco on this year’s World Wildlife Day.  WCS supports the coalition and the call for zoos, aquariums, national parks, botanic gardens, research centers, science and natural history museums around the world to now intensify their communication actions about biodiversity.

WCS joins other organizations and associations that have endorsed the aims of the coalition including the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), the European network of science centres and museums (Ecsite), Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and the consortium of European taxonomic facilities (CETAF) representing more than 80% of the world’s described species.

Climate change, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss, if not adequately addressed, will reverse and undermine any nature, global public health and sustainable development gains made during the past 50 years.

Healthy wildlife and wild places – ecological integrity and intactness – underpin global human health and health is an important way of engaging the public in conversations around nature conservation, particularly in light of COVID-19.

The Global Coalition for Biodiversity comes at a crucial time ahead of the CoP15 meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity now to be held in 2021 in China. During that meeting governments around the world will work together to agree on an ambitious new global biodiversity framework, as much-needed as the Paris Agreement focusing on the climate urgency.

WCS is a global organization working to deliver wildlife conservation programs in over 60 countries, in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean. WCS operates large field conservation programs, with projects spanning the globe and benefits from European Union funding for the conservation of several important sites, such as the tropical forests of Nouabalé Ndoki in the Central Congo Basin. WCS also partners with other organizations in the implementation of flagship EU-funded biodiversity projects, most notably the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) programme.

Founded in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society, WCS was one of the first conservation organizations in the U.S. The Society began with a clear mandate: Advance wildlife conservation, promote the study of zoology, and create a first-class zoo. Today, WCS’s four zoos and aquarium in New York play a central role in raising awareness around biodiversity conservation, with millions of visitors a year and active engagement with schools and communities in the Tri State area.

WCS helps protect some of the world's most ecologically intact wild places like Niassa in Mozambique, while conducting groundbreaking research on some of the planet’s most iconic species, including jaguars, humpback whales, forest elephants and gorillas.

Said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President, Zoos and Aquarium, and Director of the Bronx Zoo: “We have now reopened our zoos and aquarium, and in a COVID (and post-COVID) world, Zoos & Aquariums have even a stronger role in helping heal the fractured relationship between people and wildlife. WCS, at our facilities in NYC and in the field, is committed to working not only with governments, but also in reaching out to the public and local communities across the globe.”

Said Susan Lieberman, WCS Vice President for International Policy: “We must protect intact ecosystems and wildlife in them, if we are to combat today’s biodiversity, climate change, and health crises. We are pleased to join our partners in other organizations, and appreciate the leadership of the European Commission in building this coalition.”