World Environment Day takes place every year on 5 June. It is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Since 1974 it has grown to be one of the largest global platforms for public outreach, celebrated by millions of people in over 100 countries, and helping them focus their efforts on pressing environmental issues.
The theme for World Environment Day 2020 is biodiversity – a concern that is both urgent and existential here in the Oceania region. Recent events from bushfires in Australia to TC Harold and the ever-growing threat of climate change and sea level rise faced by our low-lying Pacific island neighbours – and now, a global pandemic – demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life, in which they exist.
This year’s theme focuses on ‘time for nature’. We all depend on nature. 40% of the world’s oxygen comes from forests, the rest comes from our Oceans. 50% of chemical medicines are based on nature. 100% of our food comes from nature. We need nature to sustain us. Biodiversity is the part of nature that is alive.
Biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth – gives us food, clothes, fuel, medicine and much more. It is a complex and intricate web of life on which we depend for our survival. And when one species is removed, it can trigger a domino effect with unforeseen consequences.
We are all responsible for the ongoing biodiversity crisis but we also all have the power to stop it. Through conservation action, we have been bringing species back from the brink and restoring vital natural habitats. But it is not enough. We need to do much more and much faster. IUCN and its members and partners from Governments, Non-government organisations, civil society organisations and other stakeholders are tirelessly working together to care for the environment.
You too, by caring for the environment in your everyday life, can become an agent of change and contribute to saving the world’s biodiversity.
This is a crucial year for all life on Earth and today is a special day to remember about it. Let us all put words into action in a global effort to save our planet. The ‘time for nature’ is now.