The idea of a World Environment day was conceived in a U.N. General Assembly conference in 1972 on the human environment. Weary of the drastically declining condition of the environment worldwide, the conference also set up the UNEP - ‘United Nations Environment Program’. The sole function of the UNEP was to spread awareness across the globe about how we were harming the environment around us, the importance of preserving mother earth, and the steps we could take to do so. The conference proceeded to appoint 5th June as the day to be recognized and celebrated globally as the world environment day. Today, 48 years since its inception, the world environment day is celebrated enthusiastically in over 100 countries all over the world.
So why should we celebrate World Environment Day? Following are a few key reasons,
- The need for awareness - The deteriorating environmental conditions worldwide had already raised alarms in academic circles, among scholars studying its conditions. However, general masses seemed oblivious to changes that were not directly affecting them. Hence ice caps melting at the poles, causing floods and sea levels to rise meant nothing to folks living far away and so they continued driving their cars pumping more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere! It is only with the progression of time that environmental changes have stopped seeming too far away. The bush fires of Australia are a key example of why we need to wake up and take ownership of our actions and why awareness about the true condition of our planet is key.
- The primary vehicle to mobilize political will - The World Environment Day is structured in a manner that allows one country to take up the responsibility of selecting the theme and hosting the key celebrations each year. It is not recognized as a public holiday. However, institutions such as offices, schools, colleges, and universities of all participating countries hold activities throughout the week in June. The governments get involved as well. Thus, making it a key campaign in spreading awareness and gathering support for reform. The themes selected are always pertinent to global issues and hence relatable to the people celebrating.
- The need to celebrate achievements - reversing the chain of events that human tampering of mother earth has led to, is a herculean task. And the motivation to stick to a seemingly losing agenda is difficult to find. Hence, celebrating the small achievements and recognizing those who achieve them is pertinent to the mission of saving the world. World Environment Day presents a global platform for this very purpose.
Summarizing the above points, one can say that we celebrate the World Environment Day to force mankind to walk towards protecting the environment and preserving our planet for at least one day, every year.
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