June 5: World Environment Day
World Environment Day, celebrated annually on June 5th, is observing its 50th anniversary this year. It serves as a global platform that unites millions of individuals worldwide to raise awareness about environmental issues and engage in efforts to safeguard and restore the Earth. The focus of this milestone event is finding solutions to combat plastic pollution, with the campaign adopting the hashtag and slogan #BeatPlasticPollution. Côte d’Ivoire has been chosen as the host country for the celebrations.
Since its establishment in 1973, World Environment Day has been organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and has evolved into the largest international platform for promoting positive change in the realm of the environment. Participants from over 150 countries contribute to this United Nations initiative, which celebrates environmental action and highlights the potential of governments, businesses, and individuals to foster a more sustainable world.
World Environment Day traces its roots back to the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, which took place from June 5th to 16th in 1972. The United Nations, in response to discussions regarding the integration of human activities and the environment, formally inaugurated the event in 1972. The inaugural World Environment Day, themed “Only One Earth,” was held a year later in 1973.
The significance of World Environment Day lies in its global attention to pressing environmental challenges. As a United Nations International Day, it has emerged as the premier platform for environmental outreach, engaging millions of individuals worldwide in the shared mission of safeguarding the planet.
Each year, World Environment Day adopts a specific theme to address pertinent environmental issues. In 2023, the campaign centers on “Beat Plastic Pollution,” calling for global solutions to combat the pervasive problem of plastic pollution. Notable previous themes include “Living in harmony sustainably with nature” (2022), “Ecosystem Restoration” (2021), “Biodiversity” (2020), and “Air Pollution” (2019). These annual themes serve as rallying points to raise awareness and prompt action on critical environmental concerns.
The alarming statistics regarding plastic production and pollution underscore the urgency of addressing this issue. Over 430 million metric tonnes of plastic are produced annually, with nearly half intended for single-use purposes. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of plastic is recycled, leading to an estimated 19-23 million metric tonnes finding their way into bodies of water each year. Microplastics, measuring up to 5mm in diameter, infiltrate the food we consume, the water we drink, and even the air we breathe. It is estimated that each person on Earth ingests over 50,000 plastic particles annually, and significantly more when considering inhalation. The improper disposal or incineration of single-use plastics poses risks to human health, biodiversity, and the contamination of diverse ecosystems, from mountain summits to ocean depths.
Addressing the plastic pollution crisis necessitates immediate action on a global scale. With scientific knowledge and solutions readily available, governments, corporations, and stakeholders must intensify and accelerate their efforts to tackle this issue. The World Environment Day provides a crucial opportunity to mobilize transformative action from every corner of the world.
To participate in the celebrations or support the cause of this year’s World Environment Day, there are several actions you can take. Visit the official website to learn about the slogan for this year and search online for organizations and events in your locality aligned with the cause. Sharing information about the campaign and events on social media is another impactful way to raise awareness. Additionally, you can form a local action group and organize an event within your community. Remember that you will be joining millions of people worldwide who are actively engaging in celebrations and advocating for a brighter future for our planet.
References: United Nations official website (un.org)
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Ritika Jain, 3rd Year BDS,
Government Dental College,