World Environment Day 2018 - Message by Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan
The celebration of World Environment Day started in 1974 with the purpose of raising awareness, supporting action and driving change. Through the celebration of this day worldwide, the significance of preserving the environment is highlighted through various events such as seminars, talks, television programmes and walks for environment protection.
Each year, World Environment Day has a theme which major corporations, NGOs, communities, governments and celebrities worldwide adopt to promote environmental awareness. The theme for 2018 is “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
Today, plastic poses one of the greatest threats to our natural environment, all the more so because it is both cheap and easily available. Many household items today are made either partly or wholly from plastic, and while this material has been around for about 50 years, it can now be found in every corner of the world. Till the 1970s, the use of plastic in Pakistan was limited, but this trend started changing in the 1980s.
Since the new generation concedes to convenience, it has become addicted to the use of plastic. It is ingrained in our lifestyle – people do not think of alternatives, like cloth, when they go shopping, for instance. In their turn, shopkeepers prefer to keep plastic bags rather than paper bags since the latter are expensive – it is a simple question of lowering costs and maintaining profitability.
Most of these plastics eventually make their way into rivers, water channels and finally, into the oceans. Media reports about tons of plastic polluting our seas and oceans are frequent. This pollution has a severe effect on marine life; it is unfortunate that due to our irresponsible attitude, we are polluting the very food source which we and our future generations depend on.
Apart from plastic, atmospheric pollution is another pressing issue which human beings are contributing towards. In some cities of the world, such as Delhi and Beijing, ambient air quality is far lower than the permissible limits, and invariably results in a rise in respiratory diseases and increased expenditure on health care.
Conserving and protecting the environment is not just the responsibility of governments, it is the responsibility of each and every individual in society. Curbing plastic pollution is a daunting task that cannot be tackled by any individual entity. In search of high profits, we sometimes forget that to live on this earth, humans also need a fresh and healthy environment to have a quality life.
IUCN believes that strong, effective partnerships are the first step towards dealing with global environmental problems.