It was exactly 50 years ago that the idea of World Environment Day was conceived. In 1972, Sweden hosted the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which identified and discussed environmental preservation as a seminal issue, for the first time. The Conference is considered the first global environmental summit. A year later, in 1973, the world celebrated its first World Environment Day on June 5th. From thereon, this day dedicated to planet Earth, has been attempting to highlight our ecology and threats to its existence.
Organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), each year, World Environment Day is marked by a slew of activities by individuals, organisations and nations across the globe.
Only One Earth is the chosen theme for the World Environment Day this year. The theme highlights the need to live sustainably in harmony with nature. An electric vehicle rally in Cairo, a massive cyclothon in Mumbai, an e-waste drive in Bucharest - a number of events have been planned. “We have to understand that we just have this one world, this one planet. We have to move together and reach for that long-term sustainability,” expressed UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.
As humanity finds itself amidst a grave ecological crisis - pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss - driven by unplanned growth, overconsumption, World Environment Day serves as a stark reminder to turn our gaze at Mother Earth. Erratic weather patterns and natural disasters are hitting us more often than before. Floods, heatwaves, droughts, forest fires and storms pose major risks to life and limb.
Every year, World Environment Day is hosted by a different country and this year Sweden hosted the Stockholm +50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity, with many leaders from around the world. Addressing the conference, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General said, “We must place true value on the environment and go beyond Gross Domestic Product as a measure of human progress and well-being."
India was represented by Union Environment minister Bhupender Yadav, who expressed, "The principles outlined during the 1972 conference remain relevant today...During the last decades, India has seen large-scale inclusive economic development. We have increasingly achieved this development by disengaging the development process from environmental degradation.”