The theme of the International Day for Environment is dedicated to Biological Diversity (Time for Nature), and it takes place on 5 June 2020. There are several activities going on, on that explicit day. A celebration involving UNESCO, SEAMEO, AIT, UN Habitat, ESCAP, IUCN, NSM & UNEP is planned to take place on the 12th of June, from 14:00 – 15:15 pm.
World Environment Day was first launched in 1972. Since that time the human population doubled and reached now 7,8 billion people, forests disappeared, mangroves vanished, species became extinct, climate change became obvious, coral reefs have been bleached. The pole-ice is melting at an alarming rate. Temperatures are climbing. The sea-level is rising. Air pollution prevails in cities. Plastic pollution reached every corner in the world. None of these crises could be fixed to date.
Still, air, water and food are essential elements of our common human life support system. We depend on it. We have much to do, to rectify the damages that have been done. Action is required to turn things around, to secure our future.
And now we have Covid-19, an additional global crisis. It changed the world like nothing before. This corona virus infected more than 7 million people, and caused the death of 400,000. It also caused a new economic and job loss crisis. Covid is a major wake-up call. It reminds us about our vulnerabilities, to take much better care of each other and nature, and better prepare ourselves for multiple parallel crises, making full use of science, education, and green economy, in concerted actions with our partners.
The current pandemic has shaken this international biodiversity agenda but also has revealed our total interdependence with nature and our global interconnectedness.
Scientists have warned of the links between the mismanagement of biodiversity and ecosystems and the risks of transmission of infectious diseases to humans, up to the risk of a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates this responsibility in a dramatic way and at a global scale. Our common destiny as human beings living on Earth is irreversibly linked: we need each other, and this observation must now unite and bring us together for a better future. We are totally interdependent on biodiversity for our health, economy, food, well-being, and for the survival of our own species.
UNESCO is uniquely placed to develop initiatives for relevant and concerted action, building on strong networks of sites such as the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, World Heritage sites, the Global UNESCO Geoparks Network, which are already demonstrating that harmonious interactions between people and nature are possible.
UNESCO has developed a few platforms to turn to action. One of these platforms is the Plastic Initiative. This celebration is the beginning of a number of events, action, activities, projects aiming to clean up our cities and ecosystems, and keeping them clean.
This will be the first meeting among the involved actors to kick off the Plastic Initiative Partnership. After this event, the partners of this concerted action will get together and find out how to strengthen each other’s individual activities, as well as developing joint activities, step-by-step improving plastic-waste-management in many places, involving Governments, the private sector, school students, teachers, and communities.
The Celebration of the International Environment Day 2020