In a bid to curb the unprecedented loss of the world's species due to human activity � at a rate some experts put at 1,000 times the natural progression � the United Nations is marking 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, with a slew of events highlighting the vital role the phenomenon plays in maintaining the life support system on Planet Earth. "Humans are part of nature's rich diversity and have the power to protect or destroy it," the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said in summarising the Year's main message, with its focus on raising awareness to generate public pressure for action by the world's decision makers. "Biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth, is essential to sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, wealth, food, fuel and the vital services our lives depend on. Human activity is causing the diversity of life on Earth to be lost at a greatly accelerated rate. These losses are irreversible, impoverish us all and damage the life support systems we rely on every day. But we can prevent them." The Convention �� which opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, entered into force at the end of 1993 and now has 193 Parties � is based on the premise that the world's diverse ecosystems purify the air and the water that are the basis of life, stabilise and moderate the Earth's climate, renew soil fertility, cycle nutrients and pollinate plants. The official launch will take place in Berlin on 11 January.