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World Environment Day: ‘Only One Earth’
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World Environment Day: ‘Only One Earth’

This year the day is celebrated with the theme ‘Only One Earth’ and Sweden will host the World Environment Day on 5 June 2022 in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Post by on Sunday, June 5, 2022

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The World Environment Day, celebrated every year on June 05 since 1974 is one of the biggest annual event that recognizes the need to put up collective action to protect the environment. An important part of our life is the environment in which we live. Environment consists of both Biotic as well as Abiotic components. Without it, the living things couldn't survive on this planet. Our planet, Earth is a home for different living species and we all are dependent on the environment for food, air, water, and other needs. However, from the last few decades several issues are disrupting our environment and causing some irreversible damage to living beings. Therefore, it becomes important for every individual to save and protect the environment and make it sustainable. ‘Sustainable’ means an environment that would provide the present generation with all the basic necessities required for their survival without compromising with the needs of generations to come and where all its resources are safeguarded.


The United Nations General Assembly established World Environment Day in 1972 following the first major conference on the environmental issues called on the human environment also called as the Stockholm Conference on the human environment. The Stockholm conference adopted resolution A/RES/2994 to mark June 05 as the World Environment Day. The resolution was adopted urging the government and the organization in the United Nations to undertake on that day every year worldwide activities reflecting their concern for the preservation ad enhancement of the environment with a view of deepening environmental awareness. 



Every year the day is celebrated with a specific theme which highlights the major issues confronting the environment and which require immediate action. This year the day is celebrated with the theme ‘Only One Earth’ and Sweden will host the World Environment Day on 5 June 2022 in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The theme 'Only One Earth' will highlight the possibilities for shifting to more sustainable, greener lifestyles. Only One Earth was also the motto for the 1972 Stockholm Conference. 50 years on, the motto holds true, this planet is our only home, whose finite resources humanity must safeguard. While announcing to be the hosts for this year, Minister for Environment and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Per Bolund said that, ‘As a proud host of 2022 World Environment Day, Sweden will highlight the most pressing environmental concerns, showcase our country’s initiatives and the global efforts of addressing the climate and nature crises. At the same time he also invited the global community across the world to join in the important discussions and celebrations.’



Another UNEP’s report ‘Making Peace with Nature’ that was released earlier this year, transforming social and economic systems means improving our relationship with nature, understanding its value and putting that value at the heart of decision making. The theme ‘Only One Earth’ puts nature and people at the centre of environmental work and reminds us of the roots of the critical work of protecting our environment and at the same time injecting vital impetus to global efforts to build back better and greener world.



At present we are facing the triple planetary crises of climate change, nature loss, and pollution. The ecosystems across the world support life on our planet and time is right and precious now to act. With the corona virus pandemic going on for over a year, everything has taken a backseat. The State of Finance for Nature report released by the UNEP (United nations Environment Programme) said, ‘A total investment in nature of USD 8.1 trillion is required between now and 2050 while annual investment should reach USD 536 billion annually by 2050 in order to successfully tackle the interlinked climate, biodiversity, and land degradation crises.’ Again, ‘Biodiversity loss is already costing the global economy 10 per cent of its output each year. If we do not sufficiently finance nature-based solutions, we will impact the capacities of countries to make progress on other vital areas such as education, health and employment. If we do not save nature now, we will not be able to achieve sustainable development,’ Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of UNEP said.



Soil, water and air are our precious resources. Over the years these have been subjected to various types of pollution and degradation ultimate leading to the disruption of the whole ecosystem. These resources and ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed have to be restored and at the same time conserving the ecosystems that are still intact. Healthier ecosystems, with richer biodiversity, yield greater benefits such as more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish, and larger stores of greenhouse gases. Restoration can happen in many ways for example through actively planting or by removing pressures so that nature can recover on its own. It is not always possible or desirable to return an ecosystem to its original state. We still need farmland and infrastructure on land that was once forest, for instance, and ecosystems, like societies, need to adapt to a changing climate. Reports reveal that between now and 2030; the restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems could generate US$9 trillion in ecosystem services. Restoration could also remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The economic benefits of such interventions exceed nine times the cost of investment, whereas inaction is at least three times more costly than ecosystem restoration.






The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has proclaimed the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration following a proposal and resolution for action by over 70 countries from all latitudes. It is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature. It aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems, and restore them to achieve global goals. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity. The UN Decade runs from 2021 through 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline scientists have identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Decade endaveour is to building a strong, broad-based global movement to ramp up restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future.



Agriculture is the prominent of the economic activities that land sustains. Worldwide agriculture occupies only 12 per cent of the 13 billion hectare of global land mass, but is several developing countries the proportion of area under agriculture goes well beyond 50 per cent. Due to poor soil and water management practices about 40 to 50 per cent of the land area suffers from degradation of one or the other kind. The Rio+20 document also reports that ‘every year 12 million hectares of land becomes unproductive through desertification and drought alone. This 12 million hectares of land lost through degradation annually has the potential to produce 20 million tons of food grains in the same period. Similarly on an annual basis about 11 million hectare forest area disappears from the globe. Consequently with all this life of about 1.5 billion people are directly affected by land degradation globally. One of the important components of environment is also this land which we put to different uses. This land represents a natural ecosystem composed of many elements those exhibit diverse bio physical characteristics that are interlinked and interdependent. It also supports a number of economic activities and influences health and nutrition of man and animals. In our country of the total land area of 342 million hectare; 142 million hectare is under agriculture.


A developing country ours which is projected to feed at least 15 million more peoples after every year cannot afford to practice resource depleting, unscientific and crude agricultural practices. There is an urgent need to for judicious use of our natural resources and for use of resource conserving technologies. June 05 remind all of us of our duties and responsibilities towards safeguarding our environment and the life that it holds. ‘Only One Earth’ advocates for transformative environmental changes on a global scale. The campaign shines a spotlight on climate action, nature action and pollution action while encouraging everyone, everywhere to live sustainably.


(The author is a Scientist at SKUAST-K, can be reached at pkumar6674@gmail.com) 



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