If we do not take care of nature, nature will not take care of us.
Researches show the under global pandemic of COVID -19; humans are restricted inside the houses that resulted in a positive outcome on nature, as it led to temporarily constraining human’s exploitation of nature.
Is this blessing in disguise? If yes, do we need to wait for such a crisis in the future or we can learn lessons to unit together to respect nature and safeguard the environment for our future generations. Pacific nations had been seriously raising climatic change issues in the developing states, especially of the Pacific Islands in all international platforms.
5th June 2021 is the most anticipated day to create awareness about protecting, preserving and enhancing the environment through World Environment Day (WED) on a global platform for the widest public outreach. Many initiatives are started at various fronts as a compost awareness program, planting of sea meadows/salt marsh plants and marine protected area mapping and surveillance. This article highlights the historical importance of this green day and the 3 R’s of sustainability.
History of World Environment Day
This year the theme is “Biodiversity” where “a call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world”, will be hosted in Colombia in partnership with Germany. This will be celebrated in more than 143 countries.
As per UN, on 15 December 1972, UN General assembly adopted a resolution of designating 5th June as World Environment Day by urging “Governments and the organisations in the United Nations system to undertake on that day every year worldwide activities reaffirming their concern for the preservation and enhancement of the environment.” In 1974, the first WED was celebrated with the slogan of “Only One Earth”.
Since then it is celebrated annually to raise environmental issues of depletion of the ozone layer, desertification, toxic chemicals, marine pollution, global warming, sustainable consumption, raising population growth, sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. This has become the need of the hour to reduce human being infiltration in the nature cycle leading to contamination of environments like polluting earth, water and air; disrupting ecosystems; deforestation; soil erosion; rising global temperature and climatic crisis issues. Mankind’s role and duties need to be recapitulated if forgotten and move towards an eco-conscious society.
Environmental problems of Pacific
Many Pacific Islands are facing environmental challenges include unstainable fishing practices and use of marine resources, destruction of coral reefs, rising sea levels, erosion of coastal areas, destruction of mangroves, rising temperature and sea levels; high destructive winds, degradation of land resources; loss of biodiversity in many areas; risk of loss of coastal resources; frequent large scale flooding and flash flooding; waste disposal and deforestation; and vulnerability due to cyclones. One need to work together to conserve the fragile island ecosystems; protect marine life, reduce deforestation and curb the rising variety of pollution. These hazards need to be resolve to have a sustainable environment for future generations.
Several tree-planting activities and clean up campaigns, lectures, concerts, parades organized were celebrated in previous years. Due to COVID-19 prevention restrictions and social distancing measures, one can celebrate in diverse ways through virtual mode and practising in one own small bubble.
There can be different innovative means to raise digital awareness of the environment by individual/family posting about one’s contribution to safeguarding the environment on social media outlets; highlighting the theme to be conscious consumers in order to conserve biodiversity and preserve nature; organising a free webinar on environmental issues; an online campaign to discuss issues of environmental conservation; make self-commitment to recycle and avoid usage of the non-degradable products; learn to reduce the plastic waste and carbon footprint. One has to relook to develop sustainable habits to conserve our environment.
After taking social distancing measures, these steps can be supplemented by planting trees at home, wearing clothes of colour like green to show their support; messaging to create environmental awareness among friends, family, neighbours and community members; posting selfies and videos messages through online mode. It is an opportunity to inspire others to be more rational in curbing plastic pollution, safeguarding endangered species,
3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
The basic principle of earth needs to be taken care of,as to reduce the waste so the burden to recycle and reuse can be decreased. Buying as per need because the best way to reduce waste is by not creating it. Buying environmentally friendly products will bring sustainability. A study highlighted “reducing the amount you buy can help reduce waste in surprising ways: Phone books, Disposable razors, Disposable diapers, cell phones and light bulbs” (Abdul-Rahman, Guide G-314, 2014). Suggestions to reduce waste produce by ordering minimum packing and using local produced producing.
Reuse meaning the rule of using something again in its original purpose or to perform a different function. It should be differentiated from recycling, which involves the process of converting discarded objects into raw materials for the production of new things. Reusing should involve reusing newspaper and paper products for making art and craft and wrapping paper; donating old books, outgrown clothes, old furniture, or household items to other users rather than discarding them. Taking reusable bags for shopping and using old tires for gardening, are simple reusable means. Recycling generates more industry, jobs and it is a cost-effective disposal means.
At home, we tend to follow basic things to maintain a small garden and planting seedlings, rationally use water, reduce energy consumption and carbon wastage; using eco-friendly means to reduce carbon footprints; recycle basic wastage where possible; avoid plastic usage and move towards using material that is environmentally decomposable; move towards using solar lights and sunlight by opening curtains in the day time. Recycling strives for environmental sustainability with the objective of replacing raw material input and diverting waste to produce new products. Such as recycling crayons, water bottles, paperboards, recycle metals.
I have taken the pledge to move towards a sustainable and environmentally friendly by making subtle changes in my lifestyle and motivate people around me to do the same. I am doing my bit and hope the readers shall do the same.
Author: Dr Sakul Kundra, A.HOD Department of Social Science, College of Humanities and Education, Fiji National University.