1. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has approved the adoption of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The resolution, adopted on 4 December, recognizes “the importance of international tourism, and particularly of the designation of an international year of sustainable tourism for development, in fostering better understanding among peoples everywhere, in leading to a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations and in bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures, thereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world”.

  2. On 13 September 2015 the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH) jointly announced today that 2016 would be the International Year of Global Understanding (IYGU). The aim of IYGU is to promote better understanding of how the local impacts the global in order to foster smart policies to tackle critical global challenges such as climate change, food security and migration.

  3. The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS) (A/RES/68/232). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the IYS 2015, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with Governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. The IYS 2015 aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.

  4. On 20 December 2013, the UN General Assembly 68th Session proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). In proclaiming an International Year focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the UN has recognized the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century. It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society.

  5. The United Nations declared 2014 the International Year of the Small Islands Developing States in order to call attention to their importance and to the current challenges faced by small island states in light of globalization and climate change.

  6. The International Year of Family Farming 2014 is an initiative promoted by the World Rural Forum and supported by over 360 civil society and farmers’ organizations. This worldwide celebration, declared by the United Nations General Assembly, aims to become a tool to stimulate active policies for sustainable development of agricultural systems based farmer families, communal units, indigenous groups, cooperatives and fishing families. All this work is being made from the perspective of effectively combating poverty and hunger and the search for a rural development based on the respect for environment and biodiversity.

  7. The United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation.

  8. The year 2013 has been declared "The International Year of the Quinoa" (IYQ). The International Year of the Quinoa was proposed by the government of Bolivia, with support from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Georgia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, and FAO, and approved by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011.

  9. In December 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 2012 as the "International Year for Sustainable Energy for All" (Resolution 65/151), aimed at creating "an enabling environment for the promotion and use of new and renewable energy technologies, including measures to improve access to such technologies.

  10. The UNEP Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and The Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS) have joined together to celebrate the Year of the Bat 2011 - 2012. The UNEP-backed ‘Year of the Bat’ will promote conservation, research and education on the world’s only flying mammals. The joint campaign, led by the UN’s Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS), will draw attention to the world’s 1100 bat species – around half of which are currently at risk.

  11. In its resolution 61/193 of 20 December 2006, the General Assembly proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of Forests and invited Governments, the United Nations system, relevant non-governmental organisations, the private sector and other actors to make concerted efforts to raise awareness at all levels to strengthen the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations. In resolution 61/193, the Assembly requested the Secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to serve as the focal point for implementation of activities for the observance of the Year, in collaboration with Member States, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and international, regional and sub regional organisations and processes as well as relevant major groups.

  12. The United Nation General Assembly adopted Resolution 61/203 on 20 December 2006 proclaiming 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, with the objective of stopping the loss of biodiversity, highlighting successes in conserving it and creating awareness of the fact that human welfare depends on biological diversity.

  13. The United Nations General Assembly declared 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibres.

  14. The UNEP Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the UNEP/UNESCO Great Ape Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) have joined hands to declare 2009 the Year of the Gorilla (YoG). Three of the four gorilla species are listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The main threats to gorillas are hunting for food and traditional medicine, destruction of habitat through logging, mining and production of charcoal, the effects of armed conflicts and diseases like Ebola.

  15. The United Nations General Assembly in New York has proclaimed the year 2008 to be the United Nations International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE). The Year's activities will actually span 2007-2009 and support research projects within defined themes focusing on Earth Sciences in the service of society.

  16. The ICRI International Year of the Reef 2008 is a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability, and to motivate people to take action to protect them. All individuals, corporations, schools, governments, and organizations are welcome and actively encouraged to participate in IYOR 2008.

  17. The UN Convention on Migratory Species, together with its specialized agreements on dolphin conservation ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS and the WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, have declared 2007 the Year of the Dolphin.

  18. Within the context of the International Polar Year (March 1, 2007 to March 1, 2009), scientists from 60 nations will join force to investigate the polar regions. In the past, three large-scale international initiatives were aimed at studying the polar regions, i.e. the First International Polar Year (1882/83), the Second International Polar Year (1932/33), and The International Geophysical Year (1957/58). These extensive scientific events, with numerous expeditions, establishment of new research stations and internationally coordinated observation programmes, significantly enhanced our knowledge of the polar regions. The International Polar Year 2007/08 is overseen by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). Large-scale measuring campaigns and field studies will facilitate our understanding of the earth and its climate.

  19. The year 2006 was declared the International Year of Deserts and Desertification (IYDD) by the United Nations General Assembly. The main objective of the year is to spread awareness about the desert areas of the world and especially the problem of desertification.

  20. The United Nations General Assembly in resolution 55/196 proclaimed the year 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater. It encourages Governments, the United Nations system and all other actors to take advantage of the Year to increase awareness of the importance of sustainable freshwater use, management and protection.

  21. The United Nations General Assembly, by its resolution A/RES/53/200, proclaimed the year 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism.

  22. The UN General Assembly declared the year 2002 as the International Year of the Mountains (IYM) in order to increase international awareness of the global importance of mountain ecosystems. Throughout the year, people all over the world will participate in events to celebrate mountains and discuss ways to promote their conservation and sustainable development.

  23. In recognition of the importance of the ocean, the marine environment and its resources for life on earth and for sustainable development, the United Nations has declared 1998 as the International Year of the Ocean.

  24. World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February. It marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997. Since then government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

  25. In 1997, the International Coral Reef Initiative, a partnership among governments and nongovernment organizations, declared the first International Year of the Reef with the purpose of raising awareness of the state of the coral reefs of the world, and to encourage their conservation. IYOR 1997 stimulated national and international actions that helped lead to establishment of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force in 1998, and the passage of the Coral Reef Conservation Act in 2000.

  26. In 1970 the Council of Europe launched European Conservation Year.