Today is World Environment Day, a day to celebrate the environment, be a part of it, and remember that it needs protecting.
Since 1974, UN World Environment Day has been promoting action and awareness for the preservation of the planet, with 143 countries now taking part in celebrations and activities on the 5th June. The campaign has raised awareness for issues including wildlife crime, marine pollution, climate change and biodiversity.
Every year has a different theme, and the theme for 2017 is ‘Connecting People to Nature – in the city and on the land, from the poles to the equator’. This year the aim is to remind people of their part in nature and their dependence on the things it provides. It’s about getting people out into nature to appreciate and improve their environment. Preserving the environment will also help to protect the weird and wonderful animals we share the earth with.
Around the world, litter is being collected and trees are being planted. Yesterday, a huge beach clean took place in Mumbai, India, ahead of today’s celebrations and World Ocean Day on the 8th June. Almost 2000 volunteers turned up and removed 160 tonnes (353,000 pounds) of rubbish. India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has also launched a push for improved waste management in the country. In Canada, the host country for this year’s World Environment Day, hikes, data collection events and free family events have been organised.
There are lots of other ways to take part – it doesn’t have to be a big organised event. As this year’s theme is connecting with nature, people are being encouraged to simply get outside and enjoy it. Get away from buildings and breathe in some fresh air, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Even better, get involved rather than just looking: plant flowers, walk barefoot on the grass, go for a cycle, see which species you can find near your home, paddle in a stream, or pick up some rubbish in your street. Share your activities or your favourite spot in nature on social media using the hashtags #WorldEnvironmentDay and #WithNature.
If you want to contribute to some science, the UN have partnered with iNaturalist, a global citizen science project and scientific network. Anyone can download the free app on the Apple and Android stores and upload photos of species they find along with their location. All sightings until the 12th June will be tallied by UN Environment and shared with scientists to help them with their work.
Whatever you do today, take a minute to appreciate the environment and all its wonders, and consider whether there’s anything you can do to protect it.