June the fifth is a significant date for some, yet an insignificant date for many. World Environment Day is celebrated annually and this year the theme is focused on ‘Connecting People to Nature.’ It’s a call to re-engage with the earth and has been running since 1972. This was the year that marked a turning point in the development of the international community’s response to environmental politics. It was first initiated by the United Nations with the goal to create a common outlook on the ways we can preserve and enhance our global environment. Today, over half the world’s population lives in an urban dwelling space and by 2050 this is expected to increase to 70 percent. With the world’s population continually growing, the UN stress that it is now even more important to engage with eco-friendly initiatives.
"World Environment Day is the largest global day for positive environmental action. This year’s theme highlights the vast benefits, from food security and improved health to water supply and climatic stability that clean environments provide to humanity."
World Environment Day is hosted by a different city every year and commemorated with an international exposition through the week of June 5. 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. This observance also provides an opportunity to sign or ratify international environmental conventions.
This year’s host was Canada and the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alongside the Environment Minister Christine McKenna joined UN Environment chief Erik Solheim to connect with nature by paddling kayaks a safe distance from the famed Niagara Falls. “Any day I get to kick off with a paddle is a great day,” Trudeau said, urging people to “go outside and connect with the environment we are fighting for.”
“The future is still bright for those who have the courage to confront hard truths … Canada will not back down from our commitment to fight climate change, and we are not alone,” he said.
In a statement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote: "We are blessed to live in such a vast and beautiful land, and this year’s World Environment Day theme highlights both how important access to nature is for people, and how vital healthy ecosystems are to our global quality of life."
The UN Environment and the Government of Canada are calling on citizens all around the world to consider their relationship with nature, our dependence on it and the ways we can improve it.
This year saw citizens from Mumbai organise a mass clean-up, Canada offered free entry into its national parks and marine conservation areas, in Brazil, 4,500 runners in World Environment Day t-shirts raced through the jaguar-haunted Atlantic forests of Iguaçu National Park and Nigeria took a stand against pollution with a ‘March for Nature’. In the Italian city of Spoleto, experts with ultrasonic detectors were leading walkers around its medieval fortress in search of bats. Kids played ‘Environmental Detectives’ at a resort on the Thai island of Phuket; and Australians enjoyed a day of food, arts and action at the World Environment Day Festival in Sunshine Coast, Queensland, now in its 38th year.
World Environment Day is the largest global day for positive environmental action. This year’s theme highlights the vast benefits, from food security and improved health to water supply and climatic stability that clean environments provide to humanity.
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