Numerous actions have so far been and are being taken by governments, cities, finance, businesses, NGOs, academia, civil society and individuals across climate, nature and chemicals and pollution, however, where do we stand thus far in protecting the earth?
The World Environment Day (WED) , held annually on every June 5 since 1973, is the largest global platform for environmental public outreach.
The day is celebrated by millions of people across the world under the leadership of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
This year’s theme is “Only One Earth”, a slogan that was used for the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972.
This put sustainable development on the global agenda and led to the establishment of World Environment Day. How can we ensure that the Ministry of Water and Environment and its affiliated institutions like National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), National Forestry Authority (NFA) carry out their roles? Can the different directorates; Water Resources Management, Water Development, and Environmental Affairs spearhead these initiatives and processes.
The earth faces numerous planetary emergencies: the climate is heating up too quickly for people and nature to adapt; habitat loss and other pressures mean an estimated one million species are threatened with extinction; pollution continues to poison our air, land and water.
How can we turn around these unfortunate facts? Can the face of the earth be saved with all the greed and selfishness around tackling environmental justice?
Sustainable consumption and production can drive economic development, mitigate climate change, positively impact health and pollution, and help alleviate poverty – as well as potentially increasing incomes. How do we interest everyone to take part in protection and preservation of earth?
Time is running out, and nature is in emergency mode. Without action, exposure to air pollution beyond safe guidelines will increase within the decade and plastic waste flowing into aquatic ecosystems will definitely triple and increase.
We need urgent action to address these pressing issues, making “Only One Earth” and its focus on living sustainably in harmony with nature, as pertinent as ever. Truly transformative options towards sustainability need to be available, affordable and attractive for people to make better daily decisions.
Individuals and civil society are pivotal advocates, awareness-raisers and supporters. The more we raise our voices, emphasize what needs to be done and point out who is responsible, the faster change will come.
Being cognizant of all the challenges ahead, the only other way out of this dilemma is to transform our economies and societies to make them inclusive, fair and more connected with nature. We must shift from harming the planet to healing it. How can we harness the available solutions and technologies that exist and are increasingly affordable to protect planet earth?
The 2022 World Environment Day campaign #OnlyOneEarth calls for collective, transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore our planet. We have #OnlyOneEarth. Let’s take care of it.
Joel Innocent Odokonyero,
TJ Practitioner and Ethnographer