June 5 is celebrated as World Environment Day (WED) every year. Designated by the UN General Assembly in 1972, it was first marked in 1974 with the slogan “Only One Earth”. Since then, WED has become one of the most significant platforms for environmental awareness. From air pollution to illegal wildlife trade and rising sea levels to food security, WED has been at the forefront of the global campaign for a safe and sustainable future. By Manas Sen Gupta
What is the theme of World Environment Day 2021?
This year’s theme is Ecosystem Restoration, which, simply put, is about helping in the conservation of ecosystems and the recovery of those that have been destroyed or degraded. It covers measures such as the greening of cities, growing trees, changing diets and cleaning of rivers among other things. This year will also mark the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
What does Ecosystem Restoration mean?
The reason why ecosystem restoration is essential is that ecosystems with rich biodiversity provide increased timber, fertile soil and fish besides acting as natural storehouses of greenhouse emissions. Restored ecosystems can help remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases. Economic benefits are huge — an estimated more than nine times that of investment. And if no attempt is made to restore ecosystems, it would cost thrice the cost of restoration.
The restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems by 2030 would alone generate $9 trillion in ecosystem services. From farmlands to wetlands, all kinds of ecosystems can be restored. Since the causes of degradation are varied and differ in scale, initiatives can be launched by anyone at any level, including individual, businesses and government bodies.
World Environment Day 2021 host country
Pakistan is the host country this year. The country’s government is planning to increase the forest cover and restore mangroves over five years through its ’10 Billion Tree Tsunami’ campaign. This would also involve the planting of trees in urban areas such as public parks, schools and colleges.
The campaign is also a contributor to the Bonn Challenge, an international initiative connected to UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
How can you help in restoring the ecosystem?
Join the #GenerationRestoration movement. There are three ways to join this movement, according to the Ecosystem Restoration Playbook. These are clubbed under ‘Action, Choices and Voices’.
‘Action’ includes your own initiative for restoration. This includes joining existing projects or creating an alliance for conservation and restoration. You can begin by planting trees in your locality or cleaning up a nearby lake.
‘Choices’ mean becoming more aware of your environmental footprint and taking steps to reduce it. You can also support companies that help rebuild the environment and donate to conservation initiatives. Even moving to a plant-rich diet helps rebuild the environment.
Under ‘Voices’, you are encouraged to make yourself heard on matters of protecting the local environment. This can be done through online campaigns or an exhibition where messages about ecosystems can be conveyed through artworks. You can even press those in the positions of power to make decisions that help in the restoration of the ecosystems around you.
Basically, spread awareness about ecosystem degradation and implore individuals as well as local organisations to actively participate in restoration efforts.
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