World Environment Day: driving 5 decades of environmental action

Jun 5, 2017

June 5 is World Environment Day.  Celebrated every year on this date, World Environment Day is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations (UN) stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. is a chance to reconnect with nature and celebrate the places that matter to each one of us.

“Connecting People to Nature”

Each World Environment Day is organized around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2017, ‘Connecting People to Nature’, urges us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend on it. It challenges us to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship.

Billions of rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate full well their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. They are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation.

Nature’s gifts are often hard to value in monetary terms. Like clean air, they are often taken for granted, at least until they become scarce. However, economists are developing ways to measure the multi-trillion-dollar worth of many so-called ‘ecosystem services’, from insects pollinating fruit trees to the leisure, health and spiritual benefits of a hike up a valley.

The environment and the Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states our resolve “to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources”. In particular, Goals 14 and 15 focus on protecting under water and on land ecosystems, as well as on sustainably using marine and terrestrial resources.

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Another resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of UNEP. It is hosted every year by a different city and commemorated with an international exposition through the week of June 5.