United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

At the dawn of this new millennium, humankind has a historic opportunity, not to say responsibility, to make a case that is stronger than ever for a “culture of sustainability”, because cultural diversity and biodiversity are both values of and for the very long term. By focusing on “sustainable diversity”, we assume that human beings belong to the biological universe while, at the same time, they are the only species on earth that has the privilege of creating diverse forms of culture in time and space. Accordingly, they determine the earth’s whole future. This places a special obligation on them to ensure a proper balance between environmental health (especially biodiversity) and equitable development. Thus, cultural diversity should be regarded as a powerful guarantee of biodiversity.
The perceived separation between biological diversity and cultural diversity obscures the reality that both diversities are mutually reinforcing and mutually dependent. We cannot understand and conserve the natural environment unless we understand the human cultures that shape it. Each culture possesses its own sets of representations, knowledge and practices. Human action with respect to the environment, including management itself, is a social act and an expression of culture.

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