Commemorated every year on 5th June since 1972, World Environment Day (WED) aims to be the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. Through WED, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) seeks to stimulate awareness of the environment and enhance political and public action by personalising environmental issues and enabling everyone to recognise their role and responsibility in driving change for a more sustainable and equitable future.
In support of the International Year of Forests (IYF), this year’s theme – Forests: Nature at Your Service – highlights the wide array of life-sustaining services that forests provide and calls for immediate action to protect these resources. This theme will help appreciate the value of forests and promote their sustainable management. Every year, a new theme is being celebrated and a different country is declared host of WED. Last year, Rwanda, a country of immense biodiversity that has taken a huge leap in environmental protection, led the ‘Many Species, One Planet, One Future’ themed WED celebration.
The global host for this year’s WED is India – a population of 1.2 billion combined with industrial development has put a strain on the country’s forest reserves. The venues for the observance of WED in India are the cities of Delhi and Mumbai, where a number of activities will be held. Among these is the festival of short films and documentaries organised by Filmbooth, at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.
Alongside New Delhi and Mumbai, thousands of events across the globe will participate in the celebrations on 5th June. WED will be celebrated amidst parades and processions, concerts and campaigns. Activities will range from tree-planting, to community clean-ups to bird watching trips. In the UK, the London Green Fair, taking place on 4th and 5th June in Regent’s Park, will feature stands and stalls by campaigning organisations, workshops, talks and performances with ecological and social issues at its heart. On WED 2011, the UN intends to emphasise on the fact that individual actions to preserve the environment can actually have an exponential impact.
Last year, WED was considered a success after people in more than 112 countries registered their activities on the WED website and the WED-blogging competition was inaugurated. This year, UNEP intends to make WED 2011 an even bigger event. The WED 2011 website will inspire, inform and involve people from around the world through daily tips and information, and by providing a platform for everyone to register their activities and campaigns.
WED represents a time for us all to reflect and ponder the Earth’s environment, the threats facing it and how we can alleviate some of our negative impacts. Surely, all the hype and UNEP support would make ‘global citizens’ aware of this date, perhaps like ‘Earth Hour’? Curious to know, I undertook a simple experiment and asked friends and family whether they were aware of WED being celebrated on 5th June. Regretfully, most answered “no.” It seems the ‘noise’ created around this day wasn’t enough for everyone to work on conserving the environment.
Another concern is that while WED may make us expressive on the day, this may not result in continued action and life goes on as usual. WED seems to have evolved into a Birthday type-day whereby excitement and commotion is only present on the day. This may sound like a cliché, but everyday should be World Environment Day! Also, by focusing on one theme each year, our attention and efforts are directed towards one environmental challenge only. In reality, if we are celebrating the environment, our commitment should be dedicated to all environmental issues.
At the INTERNATIONAL GREEN AWARDS™, in support of the IYF, we are proud to be celebrating WED! We appreciate the importance of conserving our environment and we call on everyone to spend time thinking of ways in which to make a positive contribution to the environment to ensure a greener future for generations to come. We believe everyone counts in this initiative and WED relies on you to make it happen! If you are unsure of what to do, check out the WED pack for interesting suggestions. The INTERNATIONAL GREEN AWARDS™ team will be at the London Green Fair this week end. We wish you a happy World Environment Day and hope to see some of you at the London Green Fair!
By Jessica Wettstein