World Environment Day (‘WED’) is celebrated every year on 5 June to raise global awareness of the need to take positive environmental action and is run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
In fact, 5 June was the day that the seminal United Nations Conference on the Human Environment began in Stockholm (this ran from 5–16 June 1972). The first World Environment Day was in 1973 and it is hosted every year by a different city with a different theme.
This event was the landmark event in the growth of international environmentalism and 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 Purpose of World Environment Day
Since then, World Environment Day has been celebrated every year and has become one of the United Nations’ primary ways to raise global awareness of environmental issues and to help stimulate political attention, public action, and personal commitment to environmental preservation.
Over the years it has grown to be a broad, global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders in over 100 countries. It also serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment, galvanizing individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet.
The agenda for World Environment Day is 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;
- Advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.
Think Globally, Act Locally on World Environment Day
The United Nations describes World Environment Day as “a people’s event.” While the UNEP addresses environmental issues on a global scale, on World Environment Day the UN encourages people worldwide to think and act locally to improve environmental conditions in their own communities.
In support of the UN designation of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), WED this year will adopt SIDS in the broader context of climate change as its theme. Its objectives are to help build momentum towards the Third International Conference on SIDS in September and encourage a greater understanding of the importance of SIDS and of the urgency to help protect the islands in the face of growing risks and vulnerabilities, particularly as a result of climate change.
“Planet Earth is our shared island, let us join forces to protect it.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the launch of the 2014 International Year of Small Islands and Developing States
This year’s host country is Barbados.
How to Celebrate World Environment Day – Every Action Counts
On World Environment Day, all sorts of activities take place in countries and communities around the world—from parades, street rallies and concerts to tree planting, recycling and community clean-up campaigns—all designed to bring attention to a wide range of environmental issues and to help people learn how they can get involved and make a difference.
WED is the opportunity for everyone to realize not only the responsibility to care for the Earth and to become agents of change.
WED 2013 generated global coverage and publicity with about 200,000 blog posts and more than 26,000 articles published on WED between 1 and 10 June 2013 alone. Videos on WED were viewed by close to 120 million people on digital screens in Times Square in New York, Piccadilly in London, and at Live Windows (Benetton stores) in Milan, London, Munich, Barcelona and Almaty. On social media, among Twitter’s reported 200 million active users, WED was among the top 10 most talked about topics in at least 15 countries on 5 June, with an estimated 47.6 million impressions on the Day itself.
Celebrate the biggest day for positive environmental action!
How will you make your voice heard this year for the environment? The call this year is to recognize that we all face the same challenges and are connected and united by our common goal of a sustainable and prosperous life for all on this planet. The call is to raise our voice in solidarity with one another, particularly with the citizens of the small island states. Whether it is to organize clean up campaigns, food waste reduction initiatives, walk-to-work days, plastic bans, art exhibits, tree-planting drives, concerts, dance recitals, recycling drives, social media campaigns and different contests – every action counts. When multiplied by a global chorus, our individual voices and actions become exponential in their impact.
See more on UNEP website and if you have any ideas as to what you can do register your activity. A couple of ideas include participating in the connected Green Wave Campaign for promoting biodiversity awareness among children or planting a tree as part of the Billion Tree Campaign.
Now that you know all about World Environment Day, how will you celebrate it today?
photo credit: UNEP
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