When we look at the world around us, we find face pacing growth, rapid development, and urbanization happening all over. Here in this article, I will be talking about World Environment Day 2023 and how you can be a part of it.
We as humans have achieved tremendous progress in the past few centuries but at the cost of our environment. For our benefit, we utilized the earth’s resources not once considering the repercussions it might have on the planet.
We still keep on utilizing the resources for our needs completely ignoring the fact that what happens after the planet is no more? We don’t have any other home to go to.
World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5th, to bring sensitivity and raise awareness about the importance of saving the environment.
History and Significance
World Environment Day is celebrated every day on June 5th as a mark of the Stockholm Conference conducted on the same date in 1972.
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm was the first world conference that discussed the environment as a major issue. The Stockholm Declaration includes 26 basic principles.
The environment is kept at the utmost importance, while at the same time re-establishing and relinking the already established process like that of industrialization, development, and economy to the environment, including pollution and destruction of the environment.
The year 2023 is important because World Environment Day celebrates its 50th year. Around 150 countries are expected to participate in this year’s Environment Day.
The event this year is hosted by Côte d’Ivoire and supported by the Netherlands. The theme focuses on solutions to plastic pollution.
Regarding this year’s theme and initiative, the United Nations Environment Programme states that, “The stakes could not be higher, as humanity produces over 430 million tonnes of plastic annually, two-thirds of which are short-lived products that soon become waste. While the social and economic costs of plastic pollution range between $US300 to US$600 billion per year.
As the recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, turning off the Tap makes clear, redesigning how we produce, use, recover and dispose of plastics and products could save US$4.5 trillion by 2040.”
In this regard, World Environment Day becomes an important means through which changes can be brought in society, and the environment can be protected. The biggest question here is, have we affected our planet so much that we now have to take measures to protect it?
Current Challenges and Threats
The threats that we have caused to our environment are numerous and are definitely a shame on us human beings as a species. Our activities have threatened the very existence of our planet, and in turn, the existence of us too.
Looking at what humans have done, this is the data that the United Nations has produced:
- We are using the equivalent of 1.6 Earths to maintain our current way of life, and ecosystems cannot keep up with our demands. (Becoming Generation Restoration, UNEP)
- One million of the world’s estimated 8 million species of plants and animals are threatened with extinction. (IPBES)
- 75 per cent of the Earth’s land surface has been significantly altered by human actions, including 85 percent of wetland areas. (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES))
- 66 percent of the ocean area is impacted by human activities, including fisheries and pollution. (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES))
- Close to 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted. ( United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) )
- Our global food system is the primary driver of biodiversity loss with agriculture alone being the identified threat 24,000 of the 28,000 species at risk of extinction. (Chatham House and UNEP)
- Agricultural expansion is said to account for 70% of the projected loss of terrestrial biodiversity. (CBD)
We are causing different types of pollution, be it land, air, or water. Just to meet our demands, we have forgotten what it means to live on the earth.
It is not us who has given life to the planet, rather it is the planet that has given life to us, and we have been continuously doing activities that harm our environment.
It is high time that we look at our actions and make amends as soon as possible before time runs out of our hands.
Overcoming the present challenges like global warming, climate change, and pollution and working towards a better, greener society that cares for the needs of its environment is the need of the hour.
It is important for us to take part in the global event in order to protect our environment this World Environment Day. There are many things, both large scale and small scale, that we can do and various measures that we can adopt to make this planet worth living again.
Governments and agencies like UNEP and UN are doing their part, but it is up to us to make our planet a better place to live.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “There are enough resources to meet everyone’s needs, but not someone’s greed.”
We can do our bit by switching off the lights when not in use, switching off our vehicles when there is no movement, adopting green and eco-friendly materials in our day-to-day life, and creating awareness the society.
On a broad scale level, conventional sources cause severe harm to our environment as they create more pollution. Since more conventional sources of energy have their sources in materials extracted from the earth, such resources are limited.
It takes a really long time for them to be built and formed again.
“We must refuse unnecessary single-use items,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “We must redesign products and packaging to use less plastic.
We must reuse, recycle, reorient, and diversify our systems. This is how we keep plastic out of the ecosystems and in the economy. Everyone must play their part.”
Non-conventional sources of energy, on the other hand, have no negative effect on the environment. The initial establishment cost might be higher, but the results that come out are very eco-friendly.
Such usage of non-conventional sources of energy like solar power, tidal power, and wind power has immense potential to grow and form a sustainable means of energy.
Implementing the 3 R's is also an important initiative that can be implemented toward a greener planet. We have all heard about the three R's- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
We have to reduce or cut short the use of materials that are hard to dispose of like plastic, and even if the use becomes necessary, it is important that it is used to its full potential and further recycled to be formed as another utility which has its own value and usage.
Implementing the 3 R's ensures that the waste material produced is minimal and further the same material is consumed in a different form so as to cut the production of new materials that cause harm to the environment.
Going green is also an important method in this regard. The usage of harmful materials can be avoided in order to reduce pollution levels. The materials of everyday use can be made eco-friendly.
The industries that produce the maximum number of non-biodegradable materials can be brought under the principles of sustainability and various new ideas can be suggested so that they deliver eco-friendly products.
One example of this is the plastic plates that are used in marriage functions which create a lot of unwanted wastage. Such plates can be replaced by biodegradable plant-based plates that can be made into compost and utilized as manure which will further help in growing plants.
World Environment Day should be thought of as a day to create awareness among the masses. It is important for us to go sustainable in order to survive. This is the only planet that we have, and until and unless we realize its importance, it is impossible to take measures that do not harm the environment and go on par with our development.
We have to work towards sustainable development. Each one of us holds an important position in this. Every person counts.
And as the saying goes, in order to bring change in the world, it is important to bring changes in ourselves to have a more meaningful Environment Day.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
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