Actions are required in the most critical moments of life. Today we celebrate one of the most consequential aspects of our life: our environment. If you think about it, whether it’s the food we eat, the water we drink, or the air we breathe, everything that is indispensable for our lives originates in nature and with climate change worsening and impacting our habitat, it’s urgent for all of us to shift gears and do everything we can to protect the environment. In 2020, the World Environment Day theme is biodiversity, and “Time for Nature” is their tagline.
World Environment Day – hosted this year by Colombia in collaboration with Germany – is a day meant for environmental action. It has been celebrated since 1974, when this was deemed necessary at United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, 1972, “reaffirming the responsibility of the international community to take action to preserve and enhance the environment and, in particular, the need for continuous international co-operation to this end.”
In times when the world is fighting COVID-19 – and the focus naturally shifted to surviving the global pandemic – the call remains the same; engage all members of society to do everything possible to reach the goal agreed for 2020 of dropping the global CO2 emissions by 7.6%, and continue the fall at the same rate so we can hold heating under 1.5oC until 50% of the emissions are cut, approximately by 2030.
According to the UN.org, nature is sending us a message. “The emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the fact that, when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. Today, it is estimated that, globally, about one billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur every year from diseases caused by coronaviruses; and about 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic, meaning that they are transmitted to people by animals.”
The evidence of the effects of climate change on our planet is compelling. From global temperature rise to warming oceans, shrinking of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, glacial retreat, snow decrease, sea-level rise, and extreme events such as rainfalls, fires in Brazil, Australia and the U.S. In preparation for World Environment Day 2020, the UN chief, António Guterres recently said, “To care for humanity we most care for nature,“ therefore Guterres urges people to, “Rethink what we buy and use, adopt sustainable habits, farming, and business models, safeguard remaining wild spaces and wildlife.
Due to the circumstances, the 2020 World Environment Day activities will focus on streamed live events that can be accessed via the UN page, or on social media.