What is World Environment Day?

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations as an annual event aimed to promote and bring global awareness to the environment and encourage political attention and action.

When the negative effects of climate change and environmental degradation can be clearly observed, it is easy to blame governments and corporations for not doing their part in improving the environment.  World Environment Day is a day to set aside differences and instead celebrate the achievements made towards protecting the environment.

 

Food Waste

This year, the World Environment Day theme is Think.Eat.Save.  The aim is to encourage reducing humanity’s carbon footprint by becoming more aware of the environmental impact of food waste.

Food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticide, fossil fuels for transportation, and rotting food which creates methane gas (a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change). The vast amount of food going into landfills makes a significant contribution to global warming.

 

Sustainable Consumption

The growing human population on Earth puts immense pressure on the environment, causing resources to dwindle dramatically.  In fact, in developed and developing countries, humans are acquiring more than they actually need and are therefore producing enormous amounts of waste.

The way we use and dispose of non-renewable resources is dramatically altering the Earth’s ecosystems.  The planet’s renewable resources such as water, timber, and fish are rapidly being exhausted. The planet has reached the tipping point of where the quality of air and water needs to be greatly improved.

Sustainable consumption is about improving what we already have while lowering our consumption through reducing resource use, degradation and pollution while increasing the quality of life for all of Earth’s inhabitants.

The massive consumption of renewable and nonrenewable resources contributes to a massive loss of biodiversity.  The current extinction rates of birds, mammals, and amphibians have dramatically increased by at least 100 times higher than pre-industrial rates. The smallest populations of these animals are most affected by fishing, small-scale agriculture, or forestry because of their reliance on natural resources.

Pollution and over-exploitation of the world’s resources are increasingly compromising humanity’s ability to survive in the long-term. Transitioning towards a more sustainable lifestyle is critical in order to ensure survival of future generations.

There are many possibilities on how to improve our quality of life without damaging the planet’s resources.  Adopting innovative and creative solutions will encourage the transition to more sustainable lifestyles while also protecting the Earth’s natural resources.

 

How The World is Celebrating World Environment Day

To celebrate WED, people from all over the world are holding special events to help promote environmental awareness.

In Africa, representatives have organized a two-week campaign aimed at encouraging food waste reduction within the UN Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA) compound. 

Kabul University in Afghanistan is holding a workshop to address topics such as waste management, sanitation, CO2 reduction, and recycling.

In Lebanon, the UN Information Centre in Beirut and UNEP- Regional Office of West Asia are raising awareness in the Arab region by focusing on eliminating hunger and reducing food waste.

In China, the UN Sustainable Consumption Forum will work with government officials, academia, businesses, communities, and the media on sustainable consumption issues.  The group’s focus will be to promote energy-efficient transportation modes and better eating habits.

The 4th environmental film festival, “H2O,” which takes place in Moscow, will present environmental documentaries from all over the world. This year’s festival is devoted entirely to water.  Enthusiasts from across the world are hoping to bring rivers that have been underground developing cities back up to the surface.

The City of Portland will host this year’s North American WED celebrations.  Portland hosted the International Children’s Painting Competition on June 5th, along with an interactive environmental workshop for high school students led by Dr. Mae C. Jemison, the United States’ first female African-American astronaut.