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Environment Day 2021: Quest to Restore the Planet

Environment Day 2021: Quest to Restore the Planet

“A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself” – Franklin D Roosevelt

The planet we live on today is not the same as the one we inherited. It has been exploited for its resources for centuries, and the current state of upheaval is more an outcome of our grossly exploitative actions than natural evolution.

Celebrated annually on 5th of June, World Environment Day is United Nation’s initiative to raise awareness and inspire action for protection of the environment by bringing attention towards various environmental challenges and inspiring action towards restoring the planet.

Over 143 countries participate annually in this day, creating a platform for various stakeholders to voice their concerns. It was established in 1972 by United Nations at Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

Each year a theme is selected, in order to bring emphasis to that cause and inspiring global action to its achievement. This year’s theme for Environment Day is Ecosystem Restoration, and will be hosted by Pakistan. This year will also witness the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Critical Environmental Challenges That Are Need of The Hour – An Envecologic Perspective

This year, our initiative aims to raise awareness around certain issues that are of immediate critical importance for us, and will emerge as key areas of concern over the next few years.

COVID Waste Disposal: Heaps of biomedical waste is being generated as a consequence of the pandemic, an inevitable outcome of the global challenge most countries are still struggling to come to terms with. Over the last year and half, the Covid-19 pandemic has required use of disposable protective equipments like PPE kits and surgical masks, besides large scale use of disposable pathological/testing equipments. While these items have helped us deal with the pandemic, they have also resulted in increased collection of biomedical wastes. If not tackled effectively, these mounts can pose a serious health risk to individuals and communities. In the interest of the planet and the health of all of us, it would be essential to manage these waste materials in a sustainable manner.

Pollution: Pollution in all forms – be it air pollution, noise pollution, plastic pollution, water pollution or in any other form, continues to be one of the biggest environmental concerns. Whether it is the economic and health impacts of air pollution, presence of plastic in our food chain and oceans, increasingly contaminated water bodies, or stress caused by rapid urbanization, the menace of pollution is present wherever we look. With these facts given to us, we would be hard pressed to ignore its impact on our lives, environment, health, general wellbeing, food chains, and pretty much every aspect of our lives.

Climate Change: While extreme weather phenomena and natural disasters such as cyclones, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. have always existed, their severity, magnitude and frequency has increased progressively over the past few years. Besides the destruction that they wreck, they also result in huge economic losses, cause community displacement, loss of infrastructure, resulting in overall disruption of lives of communities living in surrounding areas. Over the years, with adverse weather conditions being witnessed in various parts of the world, much focus has been drawn towards climate change mitigation. As awareness grows, efforts to mitigate the crisis are growing as well. When we talk of Climate Change, it refers to the long-term changes in average weather patterns that have had an impact on Earth’s local, regional and global climates.                     

Water Scarcity: Water scarcity is perceived to be one of the major threats for a sustainable future. Depleting water tables and falling freshwater levels pose a significant threat in years to come. The recent crises in Chennai, Jaipur, Lucknow, etc. are water stressed cities and facing acute water shortage. At present, around 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion people find water scarce for at least one month of the year. In India specifically, advance warnings have been issued for various states periodically, citing depleting potable water supplies and fresh water supplies. In times when climate change is impacting rainfall levels in an erratic manner and thus impacting recharge of water table levels, tough times ahead are inevitable, and require ardent attention and efforts from us.

HSE:HSE, or Health, Safety and Environment, refers to a system, which looks at protecting the environment and maintaining health and safety of our planet. In times of many uncertainties like extreme weather events and the pandemic, having a robust system in place to mitigate the impacts is extremely important to safeguard people and the planet.

Over the years, environment day has gained global momentum and the main idea behind celebrating this day is to become more mindful of the various environmental challenges that the planet is facing. Various themes over the years have included ‘Only One Earth’, ‘A Tree for Peace’,  ‘Only One Earth, Care and Share’, ‘Time for Nature’ among many others. This year, many virtual and online events are being organized across the world. Ecosystem restoration refers to initiatives like growing more trees, greening cities, re-wilding gardens, changing diets, cleaning up rivers and coasts and others with a view to make peace with nature.

A healthy environment builds a healthy nation and we must answer nature’s clarion call, before its too late!

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