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News article18 May 2021Directorate-General for Environment

International Museum Day: world museums raise their voice for nature in a crucial year for life on Earth

On the International Museum Day, the EU acknowledges the societal role of museums in showcasing the importance of nature for humanity, and in exploring solutions to many of the current social, economic and environmental challenges. In a time when so many institutions had to stay closed for months and are endeavouring to relaunch their activities and reconnect with their communities, this year’s theme, to reflect on the best ways to “Recover and Re-imagine”, is very timely.

Dozens of world museums are showing the way by supporting the Global Coalition “United for Biodiversity”, an initiative of Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius. The Global Coalition calls on all museums of science and natural history, zoos, aquariums, research centres, universities, parks and botanic gardens to join forces to raise awareness about the need to revert the current trend of biodiversity loss which led to one million species to be at the brink of extinction.

On Earth Day, 22 April 2021, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) opened a new chapter for the Coalition by calling on their 49,000 members from 141 countries to advocate for a future in which respect for nature and biodiversity is a non-negotiable imperative.

Commissioner Sinkevičius said:

Now, thanks to International Council of Museums, the Global Coalition “United for Biodiversity” includes museums for art, history, and a whole range of disciplines, all showing why nature is so important for humanity. How it inspires artists and engineers, philosophers and designers. Because wherever we live, whatever we do, nature is the source of our identities. Let’s keep the momentum, keep building the pressure, so the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties under the Convention on Biological Diversity delivers the ambitious framework that nature needs like never before.

In total, 40 organisations and 253 institutions from 49 countries already support the Coalition pledge and urge world leaders to agree on an ambitious new Global Biodiversity Framework at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD CoP 15), which will be held in Kunming, China in autumn this year. Following CoP 15, the focus of the Coalition will be on coordinated actions with tangible impact aimed at bending the curve of biodiversity loss. In addition to the new post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, the Coalition will also support  the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, to be launched on World Environment Day (5 June 2021).

The Oceanographic Institute of Monaco became the first member of the Coalition in September 2020. Today close to 100 natural history and science museums worldwide have joined, from Puerto Rico to Bonn, Maputo to Prague, Pisa to Montréal. Two organisations of museums supporting the Coalition were instrumental in this successful mobilisation: the consortium of European taxonomic facilities (CETAF), and the European network of science centers and museums (Ecsite).

Together with its partners, the European Commission will boost networking among institutions, disseminate best practices and develop joint communication actions. The Commission also invites the Coalition members to make use of Pollinator Park, a virtual reality experience about the importance of pollinating insects, especially suitable for implementation in museums. This innovative tool was designed in collaboration with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands and the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona, all members of the Coalition.



Ahead of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD CoP 15), political momentum has picked up, with the Leaders Pledge for Nature launched last September before the first UN Biodiversity Summit in the margins of the 75th UN General Assembly. Currently 84 countries and the European Union have committed to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for sustainable development.

In February, the challenges humanity is facing due to biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution were once again highlighted in the new United Nations Environment Programme “Making Peace with Nature” report, co-funded by the EU.

The European Commission last year adopted under the European Green Deal its EU Biodiversity Strategy, which aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030. It commits inter alia to establishing a larger EU-wide network of effectively managed protected areas covering 30% of land and 30% of sea, with one third of this area strictly protected. The Strategy also sets out a wide range of commitments and measures aimed at restoring nature, enabling the necessary transformational change and expresses the Commission's determination to mobilise all tools of external action and international partnerships to help develop and implement an ambitious new UN Global Biodiversity Framework. The Commission will be following up on its Biodiversity Strategy with many actions and initiatives. This will include the forthcoming EU Forest Strategy, EU Soil Strategy, an Action Plan against wildlife trafficking, as well as a proposal on legally binding nature restoration targets.


Publication date
18 May 2021
Directorate-General for Environment

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