Why Does It Matter?

There are many vital reasons why we should care about the loss of biocultural diversity:.


First, we are losing the unique ways of life, languages, and identities of the world’s diverse peoples. It’s a matter of human rights. Each people has the right to choose its own path for development while maintaining continuity with its own past. As Indigenous Peoples put it, it’s their right to “walk to the future in the footprints of their ancestors.”

Second, the loss of cultural and linguistic diversity affects humanity at large. It’s a loss of our collective human heritage. It drastically diminishes our understanding of what it means to be human — of the thousands of different ways in which we can say, “I am human.” Our horizon as a species becomes all the narrower for that.

biocultural diversity
Credit: Cristina Mittermeier

Third, we are losing both the rich biodiversity that supports humans and all other species, and the wealth of traditional knowledge that helps sustain biodiversity. It’s an issue of survival. In a time of crisis, we not only need to safeguard the health of the natural ecosystems on which we depend. We also need to hear all the voices of the planet and the ancestral wisdom that they express about living sustainably on Earth.

biocultural diversity
Credit: Stephen Houston

Fourth, we have become deeply disconnected from and out of balance with the natural world. We can’t care for what we don’t know and feel an intimate link withMore than half of humanity now lives in urban environments, largely cut off from direct contact with nature and from awareness of our continued, inescapable dependence on it. We need to be reminded that we’re part of the natural world. We need to be reminded that there are other ways of being human that are more harmonious with nature. We need to hear the lessons of the many voices of humankind.

Losing biocultural diversity means weakening the whole fabric of life — the web of interdependence that is absolutely vital to our common future. It means losing our options for life on Earth. It’s like losing our life insurance when we need it the most.

It’s a self-destructive path. And we’re ALL affected, no matter where and how we live.

But it’s not too late!