Celebrated this year on June 5, World Environment Day (WED) was established in 1972 to mark the opening of the Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden. This was a landmark event in the growth of international environmentalism. WED is meant to bring awareness to the environment as a global issue in which we are all connected, educational events and celebrations focus on humans as the stewards of this planet and therefore we must be the agents of change.
The theme for this year’s celebration is tied to the United Nation’s designation of 2014 being the international year of Small Island Developing States, in the hopes of focusing attention on the urgency to protect islands against the increasing vulnerability. This is a day for bringing awareness to our joint ownership of global environmental issues, which hopefully will translate into actions taken around the world to responsibly care for our planet.
This year’s host country is Barbados, chosen for its inspirational charge towards overcoming challenges faced due to climate change, transitioning to a green economy and implementing best management practices leading to sustainable fisheries. Bajuns wish for the world to clearly hear and understand their message this World Environment Day: “…maintaining the place of Barbados firmly in the mainstream of the discourse and action on the future of Small Island Developing States” according to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. Barbados kicks off a week of festivities on June 1, which includes taking pledges to safeguard their environment, tree planting events, coastal tour to highlight vulnerability to sea level rise, educational events regarding climate change, coral reef ecosystems and stewardship culminating with closing ceremonies at the site of the University of the West Indies project for sustainable resource management.
There are many ways you can join in the effort, bring awareness to critical issues and take action for the global environment. Making responsible choices at a personal and local level is a major contributor to global change and can be as easy as using recyclable shopping bags, buying locally grown produce and carpooling. You can also join the international effort by pledging to take the challenge presented by the United Nations Environment Programme; choose a team led by celebrity activists Don Cheadle, Gisele Bundchen, Ian Somerhalder or Yaya Toure to help spread the message that we are all connected and our actions matter. To choose your team and take a pledge for action this WED go to: http://www.unep.org/wed/wedchallenge/
Make your voice heard, be a part of change for the better and take action!