World Environment Day
World Environment Day is a day that is supposed to stimulate awareness of the environment and enhance political attention and public action. The official day is June 5. This was the day that the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment began. The first World Environment Day was on 1973. The theme this year is Forests-Nature At Your Service. Forests cover one third of the earth’s land mass, performing vital functions and services around the world which make our planet alive with possibilities. In fact, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. They play a key role in the world ecology, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide. Thousands of activities are typically organized worldwide, with beach clean-ups, concerts, exhibits, film festivals, community events and much more. Each year there is a different host city. For 2011 it is New Delhi, India.
Forests cover 31% of total land area while at the same time supporting 80% of terrestrial biodiversity that live in them. Many of the world’s most threatened and endangered animals live in these forests, making them crucial to sustaining ecosystems. Not only animals live in the forests, as they also provide a home to more than 300 million people worldwide.
Beyond supporting the natural habitat, forests sustain economic growth. In 2004 trade in forest products was estimated at $327 billion. Continued and uncontrolled deforestation therefore not only has devastating consequences for the environment, the wildlife and communities, but for economies around the world.
Rather shockingly, 36 million acres of natural forest are lost each year.
India is a country of 1.2 billion people who continue to put pressure on forests especially in densely populated areas where people are cultivating on marginal lands and where overgrazing is contributing to desertification. That was one of the reasons for them to be selected as the host city this year. Some of the planned events in New Delhi include:
-Biodiversity film festival (for disadvantaged children)
-Reporting Green: UNEP Media Workshop on Journalism and the Environment
-Biodiversity film festival
-Public Dedication of Tree Plantation
-Dialogue with the Business Community on the Green Economy
-Organic and Forest Food Celebrity cook-out
World Environment Day is celebrated in many ways in countries such as Kenya, New Zealand, Poland, Spain and the United States. Activities include street rallies and parades, as well as concerts, tree planting, and clean-up campaigns. In many countries, this annual event is used to enhance political attention and action towards improving the environment.
For example the UK’s FDM Group is donating old computer systems to an African charity. The United Nations Association of Australia (Victorian Division) actively promotes United Nations World Environment Day through its annual National World Environment Day Awards Program.
For further information: http://www.unep.org/wed/