World Environment Day (WED) is observed on the 5th of June. This has occurred every year since 1972, marking a turning point in the awareness and development of international environmental action. In 1972, the inaugural conference on environmental issues was convened under the United Nations in Stockholm. It was able to forge a common position on how to address the challenge of preserving and enhancing the human environment. In the past, WED has helped raise awareness on crucial emerging environmental issues – ranging from marine pollution, problems of overconsumption and overpopulation to climate change and wildlife crime.
Hundreds of countries take part in celebrating and supporting WED every year. On the 5th of June every year, millions of people take part in hundreds of events across the globe to raise awareness and generate political momentum around growing concerns such as the depletion of the ozone layer in the 1970s, toxic chemicals, climate change, biodiversity loss, etc. These events have not only created awareness about environmental issues, but the advocacy by the public has ultimately influenced national and international policy, with heads of state taking major decisions to protect our planet.
As we are all aware (unless we live under a rock, or are a denier like Trump), in recent decades the planet’s environmental problems have quadrupled with climate change being the single most pressing problem. Our unsustainable, fast-consumption, high-carbon lifestyle has led to depletion of the Earth’s natural resources to mere dwindling levels. It is imperative we educate ourselves, our kids and future generations on how to take care of what has been given to us.
Connecting people to nature
Every year, there is a new theme to create awareness and educate us regarding pertinent issues, that corporations, NGOSs and governments adopt to. The theme this year is ‘Connecting People to Nature’. The theme for this day, today, asks us to get outdoors and into nature, be one with nature, to appreciate its beauty and its vital importance in our lives.
WED invites us to think about how we are part of nature and depend on it for everything. The host country for this year, Canada, chose a very apt theme. The theme asks us to hit the local park, nature reserve and be one with nature. Canada of course, has led by example and waived (or reduced) park entry fees on June 5 or for a longer period.
For our family, I ask my kids to identify as many species in nature as they can. These days, smartphones can be used to take pictures and identify and log species. Record what you see and talk about it to your friends. Pick up some trash, recycle, switch off, go out and lay under the sky after work, walk barefoot, walk by the beach – check online for local events in Singapore.
Eco Action Day and Green the Red Dot
Singapore’s leading campaign for positive environmental action is called Eco Action Day. It is an island wide campaign encouraging awareness and action for protection of the environment. This results in the celebration of World Environment Day on June 5th. The movement has resulted in organisations and individuals pledging environmental actions.
The movement, Green the Red Dot, calls on participants to join the national campaign to green Singapore by committing to responsibly take action on energy and resource consumption, thereby minimizing carbon emissions (a pertinent national goal). For such a small island state, it is more important than ever that Singapore addresses climate change related challenges. Water scarcity, rising sea levels and the risks associated with food scarcity and vulnerability in the region are all part of it.
Scientific research and growing environmental problems like climate change are making us understand the countless ways that natural systems support our lives, prosperity and overall well-being. We spend thousands of dollars travelling to ‘connect with nature’. We take holidays to spend time in and with nature. But why not do this every day. So, let’s take collective action. Let’s reduce the environmental impact of our actions at work and at home. This will make Singapore more resilient in the face of climate change! Be part of the movement.
How to get involved?
Get outdoors – it is that simple. If you want, you can join the global album of pictures (no problem for the selfie-taking generation). Sharing a photo or video of your favourite place in nature using #WorldEnvironmentDay or #WithNature.