When is World Environment Day and Why do we observe this day?

When is World Environment Day? And what is this day?

World Environment Day is an annual event. It occurs every year on the same date: this date is June 5th.

World Environment Day is an initiative set up by the United Nations (or UN for short). The first World Environment Day (which is sometimes simply referred to by the acronym WED) was in 1973.

Though the day occurs on June 5th every year, each year it is a little different. This is because every year World Environment Day has a different theme, chosen by the UN, which is designed to reflect the most pressing environmental topics of that year. For example, the theme in 2006 was ‘Deserts and Desertification’ and it drew attention to the problem of desertification whereby once fertile lands were turning into dry deserts. In 2012, to provide you with just one more example, the theme was about wise corporate and consumer choices and it was ‘Green Economy’.

NGOS, big corporations, independent businesses, schools, universities, and private individuals are all encouraged to get involved with World Environment Day: it is a day for everyone. Now that you know when World Environment Day is, how it was set up, and broadly how it works, let’s examine why it is so important to continue observing this day.

Why do we observe this day?

There are numerous reasons why we observe World Environment Day, but we have boiled it down to 10 key reasons. Here they are, but feel free to add your own if you think of any:

1. Raising awareness: World Environment Day provides an impetus to raise awareness and educate people about significant environmental issues, and in particular the theme that has been chosen for the day in any given year.

2. Emphasising that we are all one human family: the day is called World Environment Day and not National Environment Day or anything else, and this is significant. This day is all about bringing human beings together and emphasising that we all live on the same planet – and we all need to care for it together.

3. Reminding people to take action: by the time we get to June, our good resolutions for the New Year may have fallen by the wayside and we may need something to jog our memories and remind us about the important things in life.

4. Garnering funding: businesses and corporations are usually involved in World Environment Day, and as a result, this day provides good opportunities for environmental charities and organisations to receive some of that all important cash to fund their projects as CEOs are inspired to do something to help the planet.

5. Saving the environment: it goes without saying that the main purpose of this day is to do something concrete and positive for the environment. Yes, this day is about bringing people together and raising awareness, but the overall goal behind this is to make some tangible positive difference.

6. Stopping extinction: scientists state that we are currently living in an era known as the ‘Anthropocene’ which is the sixth mass extinction event caused by human activity. As a result, World Environment Day is a brilliant time to focus on caring for species and, guided by experts and environmental NGOs, to bring endangered species back from the brink of extinction.

7. Stopping pollution: land, water, and air pollution continue to contribute to climate change and kill organisms as well as endangering human health. World Environment Day will galvanise us to stop poisoning our planet through our thoughtless actions or deliberate greed.

8. A time for reflection: World Environment Day is a day for us to stop and think about the environment and our impact on it. What could we be doing better? How are we harming the environment and what should we change? A lot of the problems that humans cause in terms of harming the planet are due to the fact that we do not simply think about our actions and their effects enough. Whether we are distracted by the lure of advertising for cheap plane tickets or new consumer goods, or whether we have told ourselves that we do not have enough time to consider the environmental impact of our lifestyle, this thoughtlessness can cost whole species their lives. This June 5th, schedule an hour or two to consider the environmental impact of your life in a self critical and reflective manner – you will be amazed at how many insights you have and how many solutions you can come up with in even a short time like an hour.

9. Getting in to good habits: motivation and inspiration are needed in order to change our habits and get us habitually acting for the good of the environment. World Environment Day provides us with the motivation that we need to develop or to consolidate eco-friendly habits that can become a solid part of our lives.

10. Making activism visible: a lot of environmental activism and research goes on somewhat behind the scenes – it may not be widely reported on in the media (indeed many governments and corporations actively take steps to suppress research into the environmentally harmful effects of their policies), and so it may pass us by. On World Environment Day, though, all of this changes because media reports, speeches, social media posts, advertisements and more are all devoted to making visible the types of research and environmental activism that are currently taking place in the world around us.

Remember that date: June 5th.

You do not have to wait until June 5th to change your life so that you have a positive, rather than a negative, impact on the environment. It is best to start right away! However, it is also important to take part in World Environment Day when it comes around so that you feel motivated, inspired, and educated to carry on in your quest to care for our beautiful planet. So save that date in your diary today: June 5th is World Environment Day right around the globe.

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