World Environment Day (WED) is an important occasion to recognize environmental efforts and celebrate the importance of protecting the environment for human existence. Every day, even without knowing it, we are harming our environment in one way or another. It may sound dark, but our urban lifestyles often cause environmental damage with the long-term effects on our planet and various species including us. There are many reasons to celebrate World Environment Day. First, it creates awareness of the need to protect the environment. We are fortunate to have a beautiful planet that has given us life, and we should not make it uninhabitable through our misdeeds. Second, WED encourages us to make small changes in our daily lives to help the environment. As individuals, we can be overwhelmed by the enormity of environmental protection; But we can all contribute to the protection of the environment by making small changes in our lifestyle and daily practice. Third, World Environment Day gives us a chance to celebrate how we are giving back to nature and helping make the world a better place for future generations. Fourth, the day is truly a global event with 143 UN member states participating and organizing events across different time zones. So, you get a chance to be a part of a global celebration.
This year (2022), WED will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Stockholm Conference that marked the beginning of the day. WED is the biggest international day for the environment. Led by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and held annually since 1974, it has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach. It is celebrated by millions of people across the world.
“Only One Earth " is the theme of WED-2022 and the campaign slogan is “Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature”. The government of Sweden will host World Environment Day 2022 in partnership with the UNEP. The year 2022 marks 50 years since the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment – the 1972 Stockholm Conference. The conference led to the creation of UNEP and the designation of 5 June every year as World Environment Day.
The purpose of this year's theme is to highlight the need for a clean, green lifestyle and the need to live in harmony with nature by making transformative changes through our choices. The motto of the 1972 Stockholm Conference was One World. 50 years later, the motto comes true - this planet is our only home, whose limited resources must protect humanity.
Minister for Environment and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Per Bolund said: “As a proud host of 2022 World Environment Day, Sweden will highlight the most pressing environmental concerns, showcase our country’s initiatives and the global efforts of addressing the climate and nature crises. We invite the global community across the world to join in the important discussions and celebrations.”
By UNEP’s “Making Peace with Nature” report issued earlier this year, transforming social and economic systems means improving our relationship with nature, understanding its value and putting that value at the heart of decision making.
“In 2022, we hope to see a world turning the corner on the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But we do so with the knowledge that we continue to face the triple planetary crises of climate change, nature loss, and pollution,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “Sweden’s announcement – and a World Environment Day theme that puts nature and people at the center of environmental work – reminds us of the roots of the critical work of protecting our environment and injects vital impetus to global efforts to build back better and greener.
The United Nations has designated June 5 as World Environment Day because environmental protection and health are major issues affecting the well-being and economic development of people around the world. Celebrating this day allows us to expand the foundation of enlightened views and responsible behavior by individuals, initiatives and communities in conserving and enhancing the environment.
The year 1972 marks a turning point in the development of international environmental politics, including the first major conference on the environment, known as the Conference on the Human Environment or the Stockholm Conference. Later that year, on 15 December, the General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 5 June as World Environment Day and urging “Governments and the organizations in the United Nations system to undertake on that day every year world-wide activities reaffirming their concern for the preservation and enhancement of the environment, with a view to deepening environmental awareness.”
UNESCO has an important track record in advancing environmental science through ecosystems, wildlife conservation, capacity building, scientific evaluation and policy briefings to assist decision-makers in sustainable natural resource management. UNESCO brings together knowledge, know-how and practice to support the involvement of local communities and indigenous peoples in environmental decision making. Its World Network of Biosphere Reserves demonstrates ways to conserve natural ecosystems and biodiversity through science, education and participatory approaches while promoting environmentally sustainable and socially and culturally appropriate innovative economic development.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”. By 2050, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our way of life. As such, living well within planetary boundaries with limited resources and giving up our greedy lifestyle will be the most promising strategy for a ‘sustainable tomorrow’ and we have also to remember the remarks of ex-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “There can be no Plan B because there is no planet B.” As such, preserve this planet echoing with this year theme of World Environment Day “Only One Earth” focusing living sustainably in harmony with nature.
Md. Touhidul Alam Khan is the additional managing director of Standard Bank Limited. He can be reached: [email protected]