As World Environment Day approaches on June 5th, here’s what you need to know about the theme and location for 2019.
World Environment Day falls on June 5th
Since 1974, people have been coming together across the globe on an annual occasion in a bid to raise awareness for ways of living and working that might just help save the planet. But the concept of World Environment Day as it’s now called – or WED – began two years previous in 1972 when the UN General Assembly met in Stockholm, Sweden, for a conference on the environment and how humans interact with it. This lead to the first WED, the theme of which was ‘Only One Earth’.
Over the years, the awareness day has looked into topics such as reducing food waste, urging communities to recycle plastic, targeting deforestation and more. And since 1987, the idea was born than each year a different location would be the centre for all the activities.
And now 47 years later, the calendar event is as important (if not more so) than ever before. As World Environment Day comes around this June, here’s what you need to know for 2019.
Theme for World Environment Day 2019
When it’s estimated that 92 per cent of people worldwide do not breathe clean air and that air pollution costs the global economy a mind-boggling $5 trillion every year in health and welfare costs, you know it’s high time to focus on tackling air pollution. Worse still, it is predicted that by 2030, ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 per cent.
What many people might not realise is that the problem is more than just the fumes from motors and factories clogging up the atmosphere. In fact, so many industries contribute to increasing air pollution in many ways. Agriculture, for example, is a major player thanks to the sheer amount of livestock that produces methane and ammonia, while household and industrial waste – generated by anything from indoor burning of fossil fuels to coal-burning power plants – contribute too. Shockingly still in 2019, an estimated 40 per cent of waste is still thrown to the fire as a means of disposal. This practice is estimated to take place in 166 countries.
Pollution caused by transport isn’t simply driving your car from A to B, either. There’s also transportation of goods as well as an increasing number of flight paths that pile pollution into the atmosphere. In fact, global transport accounts for near one-quarter of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions right now, and the number is only rising.
Claire Holman, Chartered Environmentalist and Chair of the Institute of Air Quality Management, has highlighted exactly why it’s so important: “Air pollution is a global public health crisis causing unnecessary early mortality and ill health at a huge economic cost to society. It also impacts on our natural environment altering habitats. World Environment Day 2019 is a great opportunity to increase awareness of this, the world’s most pressing environmental issue of the 21st century.”
China will host World Environment Day 2019
For 2019, it will be China that will be hosting celebrations for World Environment Day. The event will aim to encourage everyone from the individual to companies and governments to explore and implement new technologies that are both green and renewable. Everyone will be encouraged to be conscious of the habits and methods they can take on board to reduce their contribution to the problem.
Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said at the announcement: “China will be a great global host of 2019’s World Environment Day celebrations… The country has demonstrated tremendous leadership in tackling air pollution domestically. It can now help spur the world to greater action. Air pollution is a global emergency affecting everyone. China will now be leading the push and stimulating global action to save millions of lives.”
As of this year, China owns 50 per cent of electric cars in the world and 99 per cent of its electric buses, just one demonstration of its movement toward a greener, more sustainable planet.
Find out more information at unenvironment.org.