World Environment Day – 5 June 2020

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) annually organises events for World Environment Day, which encourages worldwide awareness and action for the protection of the environment. It is celebrated on 5 June in over 143 countries.

This year the focus of World Environment Day 2020 will be on “Biodiversity”.

Human action has reduced biodiversity and modified wildlife population structures at an unprecedented rate. In the last 50 years, the human population has doubled; the global economy has almost quadrupled and global trade has increased by approximately ten times. Today, it would take 1.6 earths to meet the demands that humans make on nature each year; and more species are at risk of extinction than ever before.

Human actions, including deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats, intensified agriculture, and acceleration of climate change, have upset the delicate balance of nature. Humans have changed the system that would naturally protect us, and have created conditions that allow particular pathogens, including the COVID-19, to spread. The tragedy is that a pandemic of this sort has long been predicted by those studying zoonotic diseases.

Nature is sending a message. COVID-19 provides an opportunity to both revisit the relationship with nature and rebuild a more environmentally responsible world.

Addressing zoonotic disease emergence requires addressing it’s root cause, the impact of human activities. As the global population approaches 10 billion, we need to better understand the web of life in which we live and appreciate that it functions as a whole system. It is time to reimagine the relationship with nature and put nature at the heart of decision-making.

An understanding of how the world should be, along with the realisation that it is our disrespect of the natural world that has led to the current pandemic, will encourage businesses and governments to put more resources into developing clean, renewable energy, alleviate poverty and help people find alternative ways of making a living that do not involve the exploitation of nature and animals.

In South Africa, National Environment Month is celebrated from 1-30 June, with the Government and captains of industry leading the way by stimulating awareness on environmental issues and challenging all to become agents for change.

World Environment Day PosterWorld Environment Day Poster 2020 (538 KB)

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