Thursday, 5 June 2014

WED-2014: Raise Your Voice Not the Sea Level

5th June is WED-2014. Well, no prizes for guessing. WED is ‘World Environment Day’. The day falls in spring in the Northern Hemisphere, in fall (rainy season) in the Southern Hemisphere, and in midsummer in the Tropical regions. 

WED was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the beginning of United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.  It is hosted every year by a different city with a different theme.

WED 2014 is being globally hosted by Barbados, a small Caribbean island leading the way in solar energy. The theme of WED-2014 is Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the broader context of climate change. This is in line with the UN designation of 2014 as the International Year of SIDS to raise awareness of the special needs of this diverse coalition as part of the global discussion on how to achieve a sustainable future for all.

The theme for 2013 World Environment Day celebrations was Think.Eat.Save. Think.Eat.Save was an anti-food waste and food loss campaign. In 2013 the main WED event was hosted by the government and people of Mongolia.

Here are the excerpts of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on WED-2014:

“The world’s small island nations, which are collectively home to more than 63 million people, are renowned as prized destinations: places of outstanding natural beauty, vibrant culture and music appreciated around the globe.  They play an important role in protecting the oceans and many are biodiversity hotspots, containing some of the richest reservoirs of plants and animals on the planet.  

Despite these assets, Small Island Developing States face numerous challenges. For a significant number, their remoteness affects their ability to be part of the global supply chain, increases import costs – especially for energy – and limits their competitiveness in the tourist industry.  Many are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – from devastating storms to the threat of sea level rise.

Their combined annual output of greenhouse gases is less than one per cent of total global emissions. Others are leaders in disaster preparedness and prevention or are working to achieve climate neutrality through the use of renewable energy and other approaches.

Small island nations share a common understanding that we need to set our planet on a sustainable path. On World Environment Day, millions of individuals, community groups and businesses from around the world take part in local projects –from clean up campaigns to art exhibits to tree-planting drives.  This year, I urge everyone to think about the plight of Small Island Developing States and to take inspiration from their efforts to address climate change, strengthen resilience and work for a sustainable future.  

Raise your voice, not the sea level.  Planet Earth is our shared island. Let us join forces to protect it.

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