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World Environment Day 2021

As we all know World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5 every year to remind people about the importance of nature. ... It is celebrated across the globe to tell people that nature should not be taken for granted and must be respected for its values. In the absence of human activities amid the corona virus-induced lockdown, nature is getting time to clean itself and reclaim its space.

World Environment Day was established in 1972 by the United Nations at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, that had resulted from discussions on the integration of human interactions and the environment. Two years later, in 1974 the first WED was held with the theme "Only One Earth”. Since then, various host countries have been celebrating it, and the idea for rotating the center of these activities started. World Environment Day was first observed in 1974 in the US.

 In the following years, WED has developed as a platform to raise awareness on the problems facing our environment such as air pollution, plastic pollution, illegal wildlife trade, sustainable consumption, sea-level increase, and food security, among others. Furthermore, WED helps drive change in consumption patterns and in national and international environmental policy.

The theme for World Environment Day 2021 is 'Ecosystem Restoration' and Pakistan will be the global host for the big day. This day will also see the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. In 2020, the theme was 'Celebrate Biodiversity'.

What is Ecosystem Restoration?

Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as 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.

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.

In 2021, the global official celebrations will be held on 4-5 June through a Virtual Launch Gala welcoming the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. The event will include inspiring messages from world leaders, activists, celebrities, and musical performances as well as Pakistan’s host country programme.

Significance of the Day:

The main idea behind celebrating World Environment Day is to highlight the importance of the environment and to remind people that nature should not be taken for granted. According to the UN, this day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by communities, enterprises and individuals in preserving and enhancing the environment.

It is celebrated across the globe to respect and acknowledge everything that the environment has given us and to take the pledge that we will protect it. On this day, governments and normal citizens focus their efforts on a particular environmental issue to generate awareness.

Here are some meaningful quotes on Environment Day:

- " People blame their environment. There is only one person to blame and only one themselves". Robert Collier

- "Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land." Aldo Leopold

- "The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it". - Robert Swan

"Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty". - John Ruskin

- “The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” Lady Bird Johnson

- "What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and one another". - Mahatma Gandhi

- "Pleasure is Nature's test, her sign of approval. When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and his environment”. - Oscar Wilde

How has coronavirus affected the environment?

The global outbreak of the deadly coronavirus has affected human lives and daily activities, but it has improved the air quality and reduced water pollution. With most of the cities under lockdown, there has been a significant reduction in carbon emissions which has restored the ecological system.

But the disposal of medical waste like disinfectants, masks, gloves and the burden of untreated waste has also increased multifold during the pandemic. Furthermore, once the situation bounces back to normal, the environment may start suffering again. Long-term goals and proper implementation of strategies and policies are the need of the hour for global environmental sustainability.

Thank you and have a nice day ahead!!

Bhadra Vineeth Mohan