Peace with Mother Nature: World Environment Day 2020
By Katyayni Sharma
“The Earth is what we all have in common.” —Wendell Berry
World Environment Day is the most renowned day for environmental action. Since 1974, it has been celebrated every year on June 5: engaging governments, businesses, celebrities, and citizens to focus their efforts on pressing environmental issues. The human civilization seems to be caught up with other pressing matters this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic posing a threat to all nations globally. However, the themes behind the observance of World Environment Day remain to be crucial in global peace today.
World Environment Day
The UN General Assembly had established World Environment Day (WED) in 1972 after discussions on the integration of human interactions and the environment during the first day of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. And it was after two years that the first WED was held with the theme ‘Only One Earth’. Celebrations were held annually from 1974 to mark the day, and then in 1987, it was decided the centre for the activities should be rotated so that different countries can host it. World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5, to remind people to not take nature for granted and to read the signs nature is sending them, understand them, and act accordingly. It is one of the biggest annual events in the world run by the United Nations to raise awareness among people. It is believed that the day was designed by the UN General Assembly in the year 1972, on the first day of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. Every year on June 5th, the world comes together and engaging over 190 governments, thousands of businesses, celebrities, and citizens to focus their efforts on pressing environmental issues.
The Significance of World Environment Day
The main idea behind marking June 5 as World Environment Day is so that people can be made aware of what is needed to be done to protect the environment. The significance of the day increases manifold when one is to think about the drastic erosion of the environment that has come as a consequence of human activities. The day seeks to raise awareness about environmental problems created by human activities like global warming, wildlife depletion, marine pollution, and drainage of non-renewable resources. It also highlights solutions such as control of human overpopulation, protection of wildlife, and sustainable consumption. It has spread so far and wide, that WED has become a global platform for countries to reach out to the public. For 2020, the theme for World Environment Day is ‘Celebrate Biodiversity’, which, as per the United Nations, a concern that is both urgent and existential. Citing the recent events taking place in Brazil, the US, Australia, Africa, and the global COVID-19 pandemic, it said it all demonstrates the interdependence of humans and the webs of life, in which they exist. As has been happening every year, Colombia has this year been chosen as the country to host the World Environment Day 2020 event in collaboration with Germany. Last year it had been hosted by China, and the theme had been ‘Beat Air pollution’.
The Impact of the Pandemic
While the world seems to be on its knees tackling a deadly global pandemic, numerous reports and columns have expressed the opinion that the environment is faring better due to less human interventions. The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature. For instance, each year, marine plants produce more than half of the atmosphere’s oxygen, and a mature tree cleans our air, absorbing 22 kilos of carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen in exchange. Despite all the benefits that our nature gives, humankind is still prone to mistreating it. That is why we need to work on that. That is why the world needs this Observance. This year, the theme is biodiversity – a concern that is both urgent and existential. Recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States, and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa – and now, a global disease pandemic – demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life, in which they exist.
Our way of life and living conditions have been altered. We have been forced to pause and reflect on our relationship with nature. Perhaps now, we will listen more keenly to the warnings scientists have been giving us for decades. This World Environment Day calls on each of us to collectively recognize the interdependence of all life on Earth. It calls upon our collective conscience to be guided by the shared misery caused by this global pandemic and recognize the fragile linkages that human health and existence has with nature.
Staff, India.com. “World Environment Day 2020: All About History, Significance of The Day And Theme This Year.” India News, Breaking News, Entertainment News | India.com, June 5, 2020. https://www.india.com/festivals-events/world-environment-day-2020-all-about-history-significance-of-the-day-and-theme-this-year-4047973/.
Mirza, Dia. “This World Environment Day, It’s Time to Give Back to Nature.” @businessline. The Hindu BusinessLine, June 4, 2020. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/this-world-environment-day-its-time-to-give-back-to-nature/article31747273.ece.