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24th May 2020

World Environment Day 2020 | When Is It & What’s The Theme?

On the 5th of June 2020, we will be celebrating World Environment Day – a yearly event that brings us together to reflect on the effect we have on our planet, and campaign for vital environmental action.

World Environment Day, alongside the recently celebrated Earth Day, not only encourage and educate everyone to protect our planet, but they also help to unite us and create much-needed solidarity in a time of crisis.

It’s on days like these that we are reminded of why we do what we do.

History of World Environment Day

Driving positive environmental change for over five decades, World Environment Day is an incredible display of solidarity, unity and respect for our planet and all of its inhabitants.

It was created in 1972 by the UN General Assembly to engage “governments, businesses, celebrities and citizens to focus their efforts on a pressing environmental issue.” Its first official celebration came two years later, launching alongside the slogan “Only One Earth.”

World Environment Day’s many highlights include last year’s #BeatAirPollution campaign and the creation of the UN Environmental Programme.

Discover how it has been at the forefront of climate change and wildlife conservation for so many years in this World Environment Day timeline.

This Year’s Theme: Biodiversity

World Environment Day is hosted every year by a different country. This year’s host is Colombia, in partnership with Germany. The theme for World Environment Day 2020 is Biodiversity.

The WWF report that it would take 1.6 Earths to produce all of the necessary resources to meet the current demands of the human race. We are failing to protect our planet and neglecting our environmental responsibilities, despite the fact that the human population has doubled in the last 50 years.

This is having a detrimental effect on biodiversity, hence the UN’s decision to dedicate this year’s celebration to protecting it.

The people behind World Environment Day describe biodiversity as “a concern that is both urgent and existential”, made evident by the recent bushfires in Brazil and locust infestations in Australia.

Nature is sending us a message,” say World Environment Day campaigners.

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity encompasses the interdependent relationship between the 8 million species living on Earth.

Covering everything from ecosystems to genetic diversity, biodiversity can be described as “a complex, interdependent web, in which each member plays an important role, drawing and contributing in ways that may not even be visible to the eye.”

Everything from our food to our medicines and the air we breathe relies on biodiversity. It is what sustains the human race (as well as many other species).

It is imperative that we protect the species with which we share our planet. Our failure to do so has been likened by scientists to “burning the library of life”.

Why does biological diversity matter?

Biological diversity is critical for the overall health of our planet. Biodiversity provides us with natural disease resistance, climate change migration, oxygen, food and clean air.

Anything that damages biodiversity also damages the systems that protect and support our way of life. Only by putting nature at the heart of our decision making, can we reverse biodiversity loss and help sustain our planet once more.

Hunting animals on a mass scale for food and goods, as well as destroying forests and bleaching coral reefs has placed us on the verge of a mass extinction. We have upset the balance of nature, and World Environment Day is encouraging everyone to make the right steps to restore it.

Coronavirus and biodiversity

Roughly 75% of all emerging pathogens in the last decade are zoonotic, meaning they have transmitted from animals to humans.

As the coronavirus pandemic has shown, upsetting the balance of nature by encroaching on wildlife can create the conditions for deadly viruses to spread from animals to humans.

In the words of the experts, “the more biodiverse an ecosystem is, the more difficult it is for one pathogen to spread rapidly or dominate; whereas, biodiversity loss provides opportunity for pathogens to pass between animals and people.”

It is now up to us to protect our environment, become more sustainable and enter a “new normal”.

World Environment Day: How You Can Celebrate This Year

This year, we will have to campaign and celebrate World Environment Day from the safety of our homes. To learn how you can get involved, check out the World Environment Day 2020 Practical Guide.

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