The first World Environment Day was celebrated on June 5, 1973. This annual event is organized by the United Nations to raise awareness and promote action on environmental issues and challenges globally.
Planting Seeds of Change: Inaugural Celebration of World Environment Day in 1973
One of the biggest international events, World Environment Day, is observed and celebrated by millions of people worldwide. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is in charge of World Environment Day. World Environment Day celebration serves as a powerful platform for environmental public outreach, and it is held every year on June 5th.
On June 5, 1973, the first World Environment Day was observed under the theme “Only One Earth.” World Environment Day has evolved over the years into a platform for educating the general public about the issues that the environment faces resulting from plastic waste, air pollution, rising sea levels, the illicit wildlife trade, food security, and many more. World Environment Day also contributes to changing national and worldwide environmental policies and consumption habits.
How It First Started
The United Nations designated June 5th as international world environment day at the Stockholm Conference in 1972. The goal was to draw the world’s attention to the problems our environment faces. The UN wanted to include as many people, governments, and organizations as possible. It was first time celebrated in 1973 with the particular theme “Only one Earth”. Since 1974, the celebration campaign of the world environment day is hosted in different cities of the world.
Since 1974 the World Environment Day has been hosted by 41 different cities in around 34 countries, from Korea to Cuba to Brazil to Belgium. Some countries have hosted the event twice or more; a perfect example is Bangladesh. This country has hosted the event around nine times. Every year people from all over the world participate in many different events relating to environment day celebrations; their sole purpose is to draw attention to different environmental issues that are increasing with time.
Every year the key focus of the celebration is on a specific problem, environmental pollution. Several issues have been highlighted over the past fifty years, such as plastic waste, disturbance in the ecosystem and wildlife, etc. Some of the slogans that have been raised include ‘Raise your voice, not the sea level’, which focuses on the global warming effect on the small island nations; ‘Think. Eat. Save.’, put people’s attention on food wastage, and many more.
World Environment Day has raised slogans, driven changes, and raised awareness for the past five decades. Below are some of the major accomplishments that took place in World Environment Day history:
2005 – The 2005 World Environment Day theme was “Green Cities,” and the slogan was “Plant for the Planet!”
2006 – The theme for 2006 was Deserts and Desertification, and the slogan was “Don’t desert drylands.” The focus was on the importance of protecting drylands.
2007 – The theme was climate change, and the slogan was “Melting Ice – a Hot Topic?”. It focused on climate change’s effects on communities and polar ecosystems.
2008 – The theme for 2008 was again climate change, and the slogan for 2008 was “CO2, Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy.” New Zealand became one of the first
countries to pledge to achieve carbon neutrality.
2009 – The theme for 2009 was climate change and the broader consequences of environmental change. The slogan was ‘Your Planet Needs You – UNite to Combat Climate Change.’
2010 – The theme was Biodiversity, and the slogan for the 2010 was ‘Many Species. One Planet. One Future’,. World Environment Day 2010 celebrated Biodiversity.
2011 – The theme for 2011 was Forests – Nature At Your Service. There are thousands of activities worldwide, such as beach clean-ups, film festivals, tree plantings, etc.
2012 – The theme was Green Economy. The World Environment Day 2012 motivated people to examine their lifestyles and activities.
2013 – The 2013 theme was Think.Eat.Save. The campaign focuses on annual food wastage, and it also focuses on the issue that if the food is conserved, it will reduce the overall carbon footprint.
2014 – The Theme was: International Year of Small Islands Developing States (SIDS). The UN wanted to highlight the challenges and successes faced by the SIDS. The slogan was “Raise your voice, not the sea level,”
2015 – The Slogan and theme were “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care” and Feeding the Planet – Energy for Life, respectively.
2016 – The theme was “Go wild for life.” World Environment Day aims to prevent and reduce the illegal wildlife trade.
2017 – The theme for 2017 was ‘Connecting People to Nature – in the City and on the land, from the Poles to the equator.’
2018 – This year’s theme was “Beat Plastic Pollution.” The theme was chosen to encourage people to reduce their plastic consumption.
2019 – For the year 209, the theme was “Beat Air Pollution.” Air pollution is a major concern, affecting around 7 million people yearly.
2020 – The theme for 2020 was “Celebrate Biodiversity”. World Environment Day’s main initiative this year was to concentrate on the necessary infrastructure that supports both human and earth’s progress.
2021- The theme for 2021 was “Ecosystem Restoration.” This year United Nations also launched the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration
2022- The World Environment theme for 2022 was “Only One Earth.” The event focuses on “Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature.”
2023- This year’s World Environment Day theme was “Solution to plastic pollution.” It focuses on plastic pollution and how people’s actions can help reduce plastic waste from land and oceans.
Significance Of World Environment Day
Saving and protecting the environment is a global need, and the world can only achieve this if countries and international bodies corporate. World Environment Day brings international bodies and organizations who work in the direction of facing the challenges that threaten the environment.
One of the major causes of environmental pollution is industrialization. You will be surprised to know that around four hundred million tons of plastic is produced yearly worldwide, and only 10 % is recycled. Around 23 million tons end up in rivers, seas, and lakes.
Also, to keep global warming below 1.5°C, the world has to have its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. If no action is taken, air pollution will increase by 50 percent within the coming ten years, and plastic waste will be tripled by 2040. This highlights the importance of World Environment Day.
World Environment Day is celebrated globally and supports the dream of a pollution-free and greener environment. It urges countries’ governments to focus on environmental issues and launch strict laws that can reduce the exploitation of natural resources and overall environmental issues. Every year World Environment Day comes up with a new theme of concern; awaiting the upcoming year’s theme is a positive way to dream for a better, cleaner, safer future.
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