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World Environment Day 2021: History, theme and significance

By HT School Web Desk,

On the eve of World Environment Day, here’s a look at everything about this day.

This year, the theme for World Environment Day is Ecosystem Restoration.

Clean environment is the pre-requisite of a healthy life. Environmental pollution, especially that of the air and water lead to global warming, food chain contamination, increased carbon dioxide emissions and a plethora of health conditions. So, we need to protect Mother Earth for our own survival. World Environment (WED) is observed every year on June 5 to raise mass awareness about the various aspects and impacts of environmental degradation and find ways to combat these challenges through policy measures.   

History of World Environment Day   
UN General Assembly established the World Environment Day 1972 during a conference Human Environment in Stockholm (Sweden). The decision to observe WED every year emerged from discussions on the integration of human interactions and the environment. The Stockholm conference also led to the formation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Two years down the line, in 1974, World Environment Day was celebrated for the first time with the theme ‘Only One Earth’. Every year, WED is hosted by a different country. The first country to host this UN observance day was the United States.   

Theme of World Environment Day 2021 
Every year, WED is celebrated with a different theme. This year, theme is Ecosystem Restoration, which means recovering destroyed or degraded ecosystems and conserving the intact ones. Ecosystem Restoration can be restored in many ways: Growing trees, taking green initiatives for cities, rewilding gardens, changing diets or cleaning up rivers and coasts. A healthy ecosystem, with a rich biodiversity, leads to a greener and healthier life. The UN Decade on Ecosystems Restoration will be launched on the World Environment Day this year. It is a global movement led by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The objective is to ramp up restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future through political momentum and on-ground initiatives. The duration of the UN Decade on Ecosystems Restoration is from 2021 to 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals. This campaign includes proposal for various actions by more than 70 countries. Through a dedicated web platform, it will provide information about projects, partners, funding, etc. Here is the list of themes so far: 

  • 1974:    Only One Earth 
  • 1975:    Human Settlements 
  • 1976:    Water: Vital Resource for Life 
  • 1977:    Ozone Layer Environmental Concern; Lands Loss and Soil Degradation  
  • 1978:    Development Without Destruction  
  • 1979:    Only One Future for Our Children – Development Without Destruction  
  • 1980:    A New Challenge for the New Decade: Development Without Destruction             
  • 1981:    Ground Water; Toxic Chemicals in Human Food Chains  
  • 1982:   Ten Years After Stockholm (Renewal of Environmental Concerns)   
  • 1983:    Managing and Disposing Hazardous Waste: Acid Rain and Energy   
  • 1984:    Desertification Rajshahi 
  • 1985:    Youth: Population and the Environment  
  • 1986:    A Tree for Peace  
  • 1987:   Environment and Shelter: More Than A Roof  
  • 1988:   When People Put the Environment First, Development Will Last   
  • 1989:   Global Warming; Global Warning  
  • 1990:   Children and the Environment  
  • 1991:    Climate Change. Need for Global Partnership  
  • 1992:    Only One Earth, Care and Share  
  • 1993:    Poverty and the Environment – Breaking the Vicious Circle  
  • 1994:    One Earth One Family   
  • 1995:    We the Peoples: United for the Global Environment Pretoria   
  • 1996:   Our Earth, Our Habitat, Our Home   
  • 1997:    For Life on Earth  
  • 1998:   For Life on Earth – Save Our Seas  
  • 1999:    Our Earth – Our Future – Just Save It!  
  • 2000:   The Environment Millennium – Time to Act  
  • 2001:    Connect with the World Wide Web of Life  
  • 2002:    Give Earth a Chance  
  • 2003:    Water – Two Billion People are Dying for It!  
  • 2004:    Wanted! Seas and Oceans – Dead or Alive?  
  • 2005:    Green Cities – Plan for the Planet!  
  • 2006:    Deserts and Desertification – Don’t Desert Drylands!  
  • 2007:    Melting Ice – a Hot Topic?  
  • 2008:    Kick The Habit – Towards A Low Carbon Economy  
  • 2009:    Your Planet Needs You – Unite to Combat Climate Change  
  • 2010:    Many Species. One Planet. One Future  
  • 2011:    Forests: Nature at your Service  
  • 2012:    Green Economy: Does it include you?  
  • 2013:    Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint  
  • 2014:    Raise your voice, not the sea level  
  • 2015:    Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care  
  • 2016:    Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Wildlife trade  
  • 2017:    Connecting People to Nature – in the city and on the land, from the poles to the equator    
  • 2018:    Beat Plastic Pollution  
  • 2019: Beat Air Pollution 
  • 2020: Time for Nature 

World Environment Day 2021: Host Country 
Every year, this global environment campaign is officially hosted by a different country. This year’s host is Pakistan where the official celebration will take place. The action plan of the Pakistan Government includes expansion and restoration of the country’s forests. Through this 5-year-long campaign, the country will restore mangroves and forests, plant trees in urban settings, including schools, colleges, public parks and green belts. This effort will contribute to UN’s restoration plans by 2030. 

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