by Kalpana Palkhiwala, Deputy Director, PIB, Delhi
World Environment day (WED) is aimed at generating awareness about the environment and drawing political attention and public action. This is a day, which calls for environmental conservation through global action. It is on June5 that United Nations Conference on the Human Environment began. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference. A resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“Stockholm was without doubt the landmark event in the growth of international environmentalism,” writes John McCormick in the book Reclaiming Paradise. “It was the first occasion on which the political, social and economic problems of the global environment were discussed at an intergovernmental forum with a view to actually taking corrective action.”
The first World Environment Day was on 1973. World Environment Day is hosted every year by a different city with a different theme and is commemorated with an international exposition.
Commemorated each year on June 5, World Environment Day is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness about the environment. With thousand of events in UNEP’s six global regions, namely, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia and Europe, World Environment Day is considered one of the largest environmental events of its kind.
This Day is designed to give a human face to environmental issues, empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development, promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues, and advocate partnership which ensure all nations and people enjoy a safer and more prosperous future. WED also is a people’s event which is celebrated around the globe with colorful activities such as street rallies city-wide, scientific forums, green concerts, essays and poster competitions in schools, tree plantings, as well as recycling and clean-up campaigns.
UNEP leads and organizes WED, creating a yearly theme and selecting a host country and a host city, which is a setting example for green policies. The theme for WED 2010 is “Many Species, One Planet, One Future,” an idea that brings to attention the urgency required to protect the planet’s dwindling diversity. In accordance with the celebration of International Year of Biodiversity, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to celebrate this day as “Biodiversity: Connecting with Nature”.
Since 1972, thirty-six World Environment Day celebrations have been held around the globe. World Environment Day 2010 in Pittsburgh will be the North American host city and it will mark the 37th annual celebration. Rwanda has been chosen as the 2010 WED host country, and there are good reasons for it. The East African Nation has initiated numerous eco-friendly policies, such as clean-up campaigns, restorations of rainforests, implementation of renewable energy sources, and a ban on plastic bags.
UNEP recognizes Rwanda’s actions as inspirational for the rest of the Planet, and is celebrating the strides taken by the government and people of Rwanda by honouring their progressive ethics with the prestigious title of host country. Additionally, Rwanda sets an ideal backdrop for the variety of environmental activities planned for June 5 since it is home to numerous diverse and endangered species, as well as displaying a rich natural environment.
There are a myriad of simple tips anyone can follow to celebrate WED on June 5 2010, and to continue living a greener life thereafter. Rely on energy efficient bulbs to light up your home. Replace bottled water with a filtration system at home. Try biking or walking to work at least once a week, which will reduce carbon footprint. Plant a tree with family and/or community members. Give up plastic bags and use reusable shopping bags when shopping at the grocery store.
For World Environment Day 2009, the host country was Mexico, the North American host city was Omaha, Nebraska, and the theme was, "Your Planet Needs You--Unite to Combat Climate Change," an attempt to focus attention on the need for the World to agree on a new climate treaty this year. PIB Feature)