"Forests and livelihoods: sustaining people and planet" announced as theme of World Wildlife Day 2021

Updated on 28 October 2022



“Forests and livelihoods: sustaining people and planet” announced as theme of
World Wildlife Day 2021

UN World Wildlife Day 2021 to celebrate the livelihoods of communities who rely on forests, and the value of these ecosystems for both wildlife and all of humanity.

WWD logoGeneva, 23 November 2020 - The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) announced today the theme of United Nations World Wildlife Day 2021: “Forests and livelihoods: sustaining people and planet”.

Covering nearly a third of the planet’s land surface, forests and woodlands are key pillars of human livelihoods and well-being.

Over 800 million people live in tropical forests and savannahs in developing countries. Indigenous and rural communities have a particularly close relationship with these natural systems. They rely on them to meet their essential needs, from food and shelter to energy and medicines, but they also maintain a strong personal, cultural and spiritual relationship with these environments. Indigenous peoples and local communities are also historic custodians of the planet’s most important reservoirs of biodiversity, including forests.

The ecosystem services and resources forests and woodlands provide, from filtering and storing freshwater to ensuring the fertility of soils or to regulating the climate, are essential to the global economy and to people everywhere. Yet forests are now at the crossroads of the multiple planetary crises we currently face, from climate change, to biodiversity loss and the social and economic impacts of the current global pandemic.

The theme of World Wildlife Day 2021, "Forests and livelihoods: sustaining people and planet", seeks to shed light on the links between the state of our planet’s forests and woodlands and the preservation of the millions of livelihoods that depend directly on them, with a particular attention to the traditional knowledge of the communities who have managed forest ecosystems and its wildlife for centuries.

CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero said: "Forests and woodlands have an important environmental role and provide essential services for hundreds of millions of people. They sustain the resources so many communities around the world rely on for their livelihoods, as well as the broader food security, climate regulation and economic stability for the entire world. Celebrating these livelihoods and seeking to learn from those who live directly from and within forests will allow us not only to highlight the critical importance of forests for humanity and for the planet, but also to discuss how we can make our relationship with them and all the wildlife species they harbor more sustainable."

The Day also aims to drive discussions towards establishing a sustainable model of interaction between humanity and one of its most important natural providers, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Goal 1 (No Poverty), Goal 2 (Zero hunger), Goal 12 (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns), Goal 13 (Climate Action)  and Goal 15 (Life on Land).

The CITES Secretariat, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and other UN system organizations, Member States, biodiversity-related conventions and civil society, are unrolling a series of global virtual and national events and social media activities around World Wildlife Day 2021. This including a high-level virtual event on 3 March, a film festival organized with Jackson Wild and UNDP, and an international youth art competition organized with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

In line with the UN General Assembly Resolution proclaiming World Wildlife Day, the CITES Secretariat calls on all member States and organizations of the United Nations system and other global, regional and sub-regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and all interested individuals, to:

  • observe and raise awareness of the theme for World Wildlife Day 2021;
  • involve indigenous peoples and rural and local communities with experience and knowledge in the use and conservation of forest ecosystems in all World Wildlife Day events and celebrations;
  • associate the celebrations with major national and international conservation events;
  • build collaborative partnerships;
  • make use of the World Wildlife Day logos as widely as possible.


For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

CITES Secretariat: Francisco Pérez ([email protected])

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was signed on 3 March 1973 and entered into force on 1 July 1975. With 183 Parties (182 countries + the European Union), it remains one of the world's most powerful tools for wildlife conservation through the regulation of international trade in over 38,000 species of wild animals and plants. CITES-listed species are used by people around the world in their daily lives for food, health care, furniture, housing, tourist souvenirs, cosmetics or fashion. CITES seeks to ensure that international trade in such species is sustainable, legal and traceable and contributes to both the livelihoods of the communities that live closest to them and to national economies for a healthy planet and the prosperity of the people in support of UN Sustainable Development Goals.

About the United Nations World Wildlife Day
On 20 December 2013, the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3 March as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. The date is the day of the signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973. World Wildlife Day has quickly become the most prominent global annual event dedicated to wildlife. It is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the various challenges faced by these species.