After a long cold winter here in Boston and with a much-needed boost of warm weather marking the promise of summer just around the corner, there’s no better time to consider how we can positively impact our surroundings! This Sunday June 5th is World Environment Day, coordinated by the United Nations’ Environment Programme, and is a great opportunity to get involved in a variety of different activities to help our planet.
World Environment Day started in 1972 and has grown to be an important environmental action supported by the United Nations for people in the world to reunite on this day for the environment. This year the Global Host of World Environment Day 2011 in India, focusing on forest development called “Forests: Nature at Your Service” and its continued support as a nation of global sustainable living.
Whether you’re in India or around the world, there is plenty going on. From the Biofestival 2011 concert in Costa Rica to the biodiversity press conference in Canada to a music concert in Belgium, to beach-cleaning and tree-planting in Bahrain, there are so many ways to get involved all around the world. All of these activities link back to the efforts of the UN’s Millennium Development Goal #7, which focuses on educating countries about the benefits of sustainable development and use of resources in protecting the environment. As we work to educate as many people as possible about protecting our environment on the microlevel, the UN is working on the macrolevel with governments to be environmentally sustainable. Just yesterday, UN officials discussed having political representatives get involved in working towards a globally “green economy” during a debate on the General Assembly floor. They discussed both the importance and the challenges involved in making government officials aware of the importance of the environment and sustainability. Included in discussions was the point that while developed countries have the technology to make a difference, they still need political and social support in order to have an impact.
Some high-profile celebrities are looking to increase the political and social support: UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors’ Gisele Bundchen and Don Cheadle are competing in the WED Challenge to get as many people to support World Environment Day, and environmental sustainability as possible. For each person that votes for either of them, a tree will be planted to support this year’s focus on forest development and support.
Do you want to get involved locally? You can choose to walk instead of driving or go as far as organizing clean-up activities in your communities. Hold a forest or river clean-up with your local community. Educate your community about how endangered species rely on having a healthy environment to live in or create a habitat for an endangered species by planting trees, praire grasses or a butterfly garden. Any ideas you may have, you can register online register online and officially become a part of the activities supported for World Environment Day. If nothing else, you should spend the day enjoying the nature around you – for fellow Bostonians, it’s a great excuse to see the swan boats in the Boston Common, walk along the Charles River, or sit among the shade in the Arnold Arboretum.
Make sure your involvement doesn’t just end after this weekend too! Another way to stay involved on a more long-term level is to join local organizations that have environmental missions. Some options in the Boston area include the Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM), Green Corps (Program) and Boston Youth Environmental Network. Celebrate the great beauty of your environment this weekend, and take action, whether globally or locally in any way you can to make sure that environment is maintained for years -and generations! – to come. It’s up to each of us to ensure a plentiful and rich future for our planet.