Yesterday was World Migratory Bird Day – an annual event which attempts to raise awareness around the world about issues related to birds as they migrate. The theme of this years Migratory Bird Day was barriers to migration.
It’s worth noting that I am writing about World Migratory Bird Day the day after it took place, when it’s going to be another 364 days until people reading this article can actually do something to participate in an event related to the occasion. I consider myself to be an eager environmentalist. I frequently look for information about environmentalist events and opportunities for activism. How could I have missed World Migratory Bird Day? Why haven’t I heard anything about World Migratory Bird Day events in years past?
World Migratory Bird Day 2009 has me thinking more about the barriers to the migration of ideas than the migration of birds. A willing recipient of environmental news like myself should have been aware of World Migratory Bird Day a long time ago.
One barrier that’s not present: Inadequate resources. World Migratory Bird Day is a project supported by the United Nations, not just by some little nonprofit or tiny office at the back hallways of some second-rate university.
Big as the United Nations is, though, it’s not very effective in extending its reach out into the world. The United Nations is great at getting the leaders of nations to speak to each other, but it isn’t successful at communicating outside of this elite sphere. The UN has a habit of declaring the day-of-this-and-that, or the year-of-a-special theme, and then leaving it at that, expecting the peoples of the world to pay heed on their own and make the events happen. The United Nations doesn’t do much media outreach, or networking with grassroots activist networks. The UN’s events rarely go viral.
If the UN wants events like World Migratory Bird Day to have more significance, the people responsible for these UN events will have to learn to migrate more themselves, to extend a hand outside their offices, creating tools to build relationships with people who are ready to lend a hand.