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Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually on 5 June, World Environment Day is the largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people across the world.
“It is vital we safeguard the health of its atmosphere, the richness and diversity of life on Earth, its ecosystems and its finite resources. But we are failing to do so,” said the UN chief. “We are asking too much of our planet to maintain ways of life that are unsustainable,” he cautioned, noting that this not only hurts the Earth, but also its inhabitants.
David R. Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, brought attention to the environmental devastation caused by conflicts around the world and its impact on human rights. According to the UN expert, catastrophic environmental impacts of conflicts jeopardize human rights (especially the right to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment; the right to water; the right to life and health). Covid-19 pandemic and a triple environmental crisis - climate disruption, collapsing biodiversity and pervasive pollution is delaying progress towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, “it is imperative to end wars, ensure peace and begin the healing and restoration processes as soon as humanly possible”, he added.
The Secretary-General outlined recommendations to activate renewable energy everywhere by making renewable technologies and raw materials available to all, cutting red tape, shifting subsidies and tripling investment.
Since 1973, World Environment Day has been used to raise awareness and generate political momentum around growing environmental concerns, such as toxic chemical pollution, desertification, and global warming. It has since grown into a global action platform, helping to drive change in consumption habits, as well as in national and international environmental policy.