By Patricia Lee
Every year on the 5th of June, the world celebrates World Environment Day (WED). Designated by the UN General Assembly in 1972 and first commemorated in 1974, WED is run by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the leading global environmental authority on the environment.
World Environment Day aims to raise awareness and take action on critical environmental issues, such as global warming, marine pollution, wildlife conservation and reforestation. Over the years, WED has become one of the largest global platforms for environmental public outreach. Currently, more than 150 countries celebrate the 5th of June each year by encouraging awareness and action to protect the environment.
After more than 40 years of its creation, WED is still the most recognised day for environmental action engaging governments, corporations, non-governmental organisations, individuals, communities and charities; inspiring people all over the world to show their care and support for the Earth and the environment through activities such as tree planting, environmental campaigns, concerts, conventions, lectures and kids workshops.
Every year, WED has a new focus and a different host. In 2020, the theme is focused in the importance of biodiversity, and the event will be hosted by Colombia – one of the world’s ‘megadiverse’ countries, sustaining close to 10 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity – in partnership with Germany, one of the leading nations in climate action and biodiversity conservation.
Biodiversity encompasses the variety of life on Earth – including the 8 million plant and animal species on the planet, the ecosystems that house them, and the genetic diversity among them – and the way every living thing, from microorganisms to entire ecosystems interact and make the planet habitable.
In our world, around one million plant and animal species are in risk of extinction and, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems are projected to undermine progress towards 80 percent of the assessed targets of the Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty, hunger, health, sustainable consumption and production, water, cities, climate, oceans, and land.
So, what are you doing this 5th of June?
Becoming environmental warriors is easily achieved through activities design to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our environment by celebrating World Environmental Day!
Here we share some ideas to make this World Environment Day a special one for you and your school:
-> Remind your friends and family about the damaging role of plastics and the need to recycle and reduce waste. Plastics are very harmful for our land, ocean, plants, and animals so it is important that we remind ourselves to:
Reduce our plastic waste
Reuse your shopping and produce bags and avoid single-use plastic bags, get your own reusable coffee cup, look for environmental friendly materials such as bamboo instead of plastic, have your own reusable water bottle, make your own cloth bags from old shirts, choose clothing and other personal items made from environment-friendly materials.
Refuse the use of plastic.
Remove trash in your neighbourhood, when visiting parks and beaches.
Recycle the plastics you use and no longer need.
Return single-use bags to grocery stores for them to recycle.
Rally! Invite your family and friends to make the change.
-> Become the eco-guardian of your house
Check every day that the lights switches are off when not in use.
Check if all water taps are closed.
Unplug machines that are not in use.
Make sure rubbish is being separated in your household.
Water your plants
Keep a water bowl for animals and birds
-> Share your ideas to protect our environment
Plant a community garden
Ask your teacher about creating an outdoor classroom to observe nature, writing or having your lectures.
Organise an upcycled art competition using items that otherwise would be discarded in the bin and then organise an exhibit to show your work.
For more information, visit:
To know more about the activities organised by UNEP this 5th of June, visit: https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/latest/schedule