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World Environment Day – Objectives, Importance, Government Initiatives

Introduction: World Environment Day, observed annually on the 5th of June, stands as a pivotal initiative led by the United Nations to foster awareness and mobilize action for the conservation of the environment. Commencing its journey in 1973, this global event draws participation from over 143 nations. Each year, it provides a dedicated focus and a platform for companies, NGOs, governments, and notable figures to address and advocate solutions for environmental challenges.

This article delves into the significance of World Environment Day, elucidates its objectives and themes, explores the LiFE Movement, and outlines various initiatives undertaken by the Indian Government. This information is pertinent for aspirants preparing for the UPSC Examination, given the substantial relevance of the Environment section in both the mains GS 3 paper and prelims GS paper 1.

Latest Insights on World Environment Day 2023

The theme for World Environment Day 2023 centered around the #BeatPlasticPollution campaign, emphasizing ‘Ecosystem Restoration.’ This theme served as a poignant reminder of the critical impact of human actions on plastic, as this material gradually infiltrates our oceans, soil, and forests, inflicting irreversible damage. Côte d’Ivoire hosted the event, with support from the Netherlands.

What is World Environment Day?

Every year on June 5th, we mark World Environment Day, a dedicated occasion aimed at raising public awareness about the importance of environmental preservation. This significant day originated during the commencement of the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment and coincided with the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on June 5, 1972, as per a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly.

Since 1973, UNEP has taken on the responsibility of organizing World Environment Day. This United Nations-led initiative seeks to cultivate global awareness and prompt action in support of environmental conservation. Each year, the event revolves around a specific theme and slogan tailored to address the most pressing environmental concerns of that period. Hosting duties for this impactful event rotate among different nations each year.

Objectives of World Environment Day

  • The day’s objective is to highlight environmental issues and emphasize the importance of not taking nature for granted.
  • World Environment Day, under the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), is observed to mobilize businesses, governments, celebrities, and individuals to address urgent environmental challenges.
  • Events on World Environment Day aim to foster a global community committed to the well-being of environment, aiming for transformative impact worldwide.
  • The event encourages the adoption of new approaches to reduce resource consumption, promote greener models, enhance sustainability, protect natural habitats, impart environmental education to young people, and inspire them to coexist harmoniously with nature, thus fostering a green future.

Importance of World Environment Day

  • World Environment Day provides a global platform for people worldwide to engage in various campaigns aimed at raising awareness about environmental protection.
  • The day is marked by a unique theme and slogan that address the most urgent environmental issue of the moment.
  • It serves as a reminder of the collective influence individuals possess to bring about positive change by making informed personal choices and resisting detrimental corporate and governmental policies affecting the biosphere.
  • The occasion calls for immediate action to tackle global concerns such as pollution, ocean degradation, population growth, climate change, wildlife and forest conservation, and, most importantly, sustainable development safeguarding the Earth’s natural resources.
  • Emphasis is placed on research and development plans recognizing alternative energy sources as significant future contributors to our energy needs.
  • People, groups, organizations, schools, NGOs, and volunteers are encouraged to educate the public about these critical environmental topics.
  • Commemorating this day provides an opportunity to reinforce the foundation for informed opinions and responsible behavior among individuals, businesses, and communities in terms of protecting and enhancing the environment.

Initiatives of Indian Government

Read here about the Initiatives of the Indian Government provided below:

Save Soil Movement

  • The Global Save Soil Movement is a widespread initiative urging individuals to take action in enhancing soil health, highlighting the pressing concern of deteriorating soil conditions.
  • This movement advocates for the power of individual actions to influence policies and engage the public, uniting those with environmental concerns regarding soil protection.

Life Movement

  • In 2022, India launched the “Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) Movement” on Environment Day, introducing this concept during the COP26 Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Glasgow in 2021.
  • The LiFE Movement advocates for an environmentally aware lifestyle, stressing the significance of “mindful and conscious usage” over “mindless and thoughtless consumption.”

Creation of Green Jobs

  1. Green jobs refer to occupations that directly contribute to the betterment of the environment and overall environmental well-being.
  2. This category encompasses roles related to renewable energy, resource conservation, and energy efficiency.
  3. Ultimately, the goal of these jobs is to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and reduce the environmental impact of specific economic sectors.

The Clean and Green campaign

  • The campaign was initiated by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • Urban Local Bodies throughout the country conduct awareness sessions as part of this initiative, aiming to eliminate the use of single-use plastics and contribute to environmental well-being.

Timeline of the World Environment Day Along with Their Themes

Since it started in 1973, World Environment Day has become a big global event to raise awareness about the environment and encourage people around the world to take action. For the past 50 years, millions of people have joined in on this day, led by the United Nations Environment Programme. Together, they’ve inspired governments and organizations to make important environmental policies. Here are some key moments in the history of World Environment Day.

Timeline of the World Environment Day
Year Occurrence
1972 The opening day of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, June 5th is declared World Environment Day by the UN General Assembly.
UN Environment Programme’s founding.
1973 “Only One Earth” serves as the theme for the first World Environment Day celebrated in 1973.
1987 At its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, the UN Environment Program commemorates the day by giving the very first of its Global 500 awards to environmental leaders.
2018 The 45th World Environment Day was organized by India with the slogan “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
Both the Indian and the European Union governments pledged to ban single-use plastics by 2022 and 2025, respectively.
2020 World Environment Day 2020 was hosted by Colombia and was held virtually owing to the COVID-19 epidemic.
2021 Ecosystem restoration was the main topic of discussion for World Environment Day 2021, which had the tagline “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore” with the day being hosted by Pakistan.
2022 Sweden hosted World Environment Day 2022 under the theme unchanged as the theme of the very first World Environment Day – ‘Only one Earth’.

About LiFE Movement

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day, India launched the worldwide initiative known as the Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) Movement. The purpose is to encourage individuals, communities, and organizations across the globe to embrace a lifestyle that prioritizes environmental consciousness.

  • During the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in 2021, India presented the LiFE Movement.
  • Following the launch of the LiFE Movement, the “LiFE Global Call for Papers” will be initiated, inviting insights and recommendations from scholars, universities, research institutes, and others.
  • The LiFE concept promotes an environmentally conscious lifestyle, emphasizing “mindful and purposeful utilization” over “thoughtless and inefficient consumption.”

Aims of the LiFE Movement

  • The Movement endeavours to motivate individuals globally to embrace small, daily acts that contribute to climate friendliness, harnessing the strength of collective endeavours.
  • The Mission aims to create and nurture a global community known as “Pro-Planet People” (P3).
  • The LiFE Movement, as an international initiative, strives to build an ecosystem that fosters both environmental preservation and human well-being.
  • Through collaborative efforts, the LiFE Movement aspires to bring about positive transformations on a global scale.

World Environment Day Anthem

  • In celebration of World Environment Day, the song “Earth Anthem,” penned by Indian diplomat and poet Abhay K, is performed.
  • Recordings of the Anthem are available in all eight official UN languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
  • Additionally, versions in Hindi and Nepali are also accessible.
  • Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor, who were Union Ministers of India at the time, unveiled the anthem in June 2013 during a gathering hosted by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in New Delhi, marking World Environment Day. The global organization Habitat For Humanity actively promoted the anthem.

Initiatives of the Indian Government for Conserving Environment

Below mentioned are some of the initiatives from the government of India toward conserving environment:

Namami Gange Programme

  • Launched in 2014 with a budget of Rs. 20,000 crores, this is a comprehensive conservation initiative.
  • The program focuses on safeguarding and revitalizing the National River Ganga, with a primary objective of reducing pollution.
  • Implementation at the state and national levels is overseen by the State Program Management Groups (SPMGs) and the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), respectively.

Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY)

  • Unveiled on December 25, 2019, on the 95th birth anniversary of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Atal Bhujal Yojana aims to improve groundwater management over a five-year period in seven Indian states.
  • The Rs. 6,000 crore scheme encompasses 78 districts, 193 blocks, and 8350 gram panchayats.
  • Implementation of the program is focused on the districts within seven priority states: Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Ministry of Jal Shakti is responsible for executing the program, with equal financial contributions (50:50) from the World Bank and the Government of India.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

  • Launched on October 2, 2014, on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan aims to eliminate open defecation and improve solid waste management.
  • The mission is bifurcated into urban and rural components, with the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation managing the rural areas and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs overseeing the urban regions.
  • The initial phase of the mission concluded in October 2019, and the second phase is slated to continue until 2024–2025.

Nagar Van Scheme

  • Introduced in honor of World Environment Day 2020, the Nagar Van Scheme aims to establish 200 Urban Forests throughout India in the next five years.
  • The development will utilize either existing forest land or free land made available by local authorities across the country.
  • The Warje Urban Forest in Pune, Maharashtra, serves as the prototype for this initiative, with funding provided by CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority).

Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP)

  • Launched on May 15, 2018, the GSDP aims to provide training to over 5.5 lakh workers nationwide in the fields of environment and forestry.
  • The initiative is designed to contribute to the attainment of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),
  • National Biodiversity Targets (NBTs), and the Waste Management Rules (2016).

Jal Jeevan Mission

  • The Jal Jeevan Mission, initiated in August 2019, aims to ensure that by 2024, every rural household has access to 55 litres of water per person per day through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC).
  • The mission allocates a budget of Rs 3,50,000 crores, with a funding distribution pattern of 90:10 between the Center and states for Himalayan and North
  • Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories (UTs).

National Clean Air Programme

  • Introduced in January 2019, this initiative sets a five-year objective to reduce air pollution by a minimum of 20–30%, using 2017 as the baseline.
  • By 2024, the mission aims to achieve a decrease of at least 20% in both coarse (PM10) and fine (PM2.5) particles in the air.

Interesting Facts about World Environment Day

The table presented below outlines key facts associated with World Environment Day.

Facts about World Environment Day
Officially called as UN World Environment Day
When is world environment day 5th of June every year
Year of Establishment 1972
Established by UN General Assembly
First World Environment Day 5th of June, 1973
Theme of World Environment Day 1973 Only One Earth
Significance of the Day Creation of awareness on environmental issues
Different Ways of Celebration Parades, Environmental Outreach Programs, Street Rallies, Concerts and so on.

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Who is credited with commencing the World Environment Day?

On the very first day of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972, the United Nations General Assembly launched the World Environment Day.

Who wrote the song or the anthem for World Environment Day?

Earth Anthem was released in 2013 at the Indian Council of Cultural Relations on the occasion of World Environment Day. It was written in 2008 by Indian poet and diplomat Abhay K.

What is the main purpose of celebrating World Environment Day?

The purpose of World Environment Day is to increase public awareness of environmental problems such as wildlife crime, marine pollution, population growth, and global warming.

When do we celebrate World Environment Day?

World Environment Day is celebrated every year on the 5th day of June.

What is the 2022 World Environment Day's slogan?

The slogan for the World Environment Day 2022 is “Only One Earth" with a major concentration on “Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature”.

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