Today is World Environment Day – my very best wishes!
Last month, 22 May was International Day for Biological Diversity (or World Biodiversity Day). Earth Day takes place each year on 22 April. And let us not forget that World Wetlands Day is on 2 February, 21 March is International Day of Forests and 11 December is International Mountain Day. There is also World Habitat Day on 1 October and World Ocean Day on 8 June. World Migratory Birds Day is on 11 May!
World Environment Day aims to raise global awareness of the need to take positive environmental action, while the Earth Day Network says that Earth Day broadens the base of support for environmental programs, rekindles public commitment and builds community activism. The goal for World Biodiversity Day is “To increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.” These are three different takes on the same issue of promoting a better Environment.
The reasons for having a “world day” is to focus attention and to galvanise public opinion, but my question is whether there is a certain fatigue after several years. An often-cited argument against focusing a lot of attention on one day only is that the issue is considered less important the other 364 days of the year. I also wonder whether three different – unrelated – days in the first half of the year to celebrate nature and environment is the most efficient way of using scarce resources. And having other days to celebrate mountains, forests, oceans, wetlands and birds may confuse our audience even more.
It is paramount to raise awareness about the value of nature and the need to protect our environment, as this is arguably the most important issue that the world is facing. Using a special day to focus the attention may make sense, but an integrated approach and a joint programme of action might be a lot more powerful. Joint action may also provide a better opportunity to get high-level political interest and buy-in from other sectors. Closer collaboration between all the different parties would be required for a start!
Should we not try and aim for one annual day to celebrate all aspects of nature?