World Environment Day calls on everyone to safeguard our natural environment. Here’s a remarkable revelation: Approximately 7 million individuals lose their lives annually due to illnesses caused by air pollution, and most of these cases are found in the Asia-Pacific area. This special day, observed on June 5, inspires people around the globe to take action. It covers various issues such as littering and climate change. World Environment Day is not only a worldwide celebration but also an opportunity to engage and educate the public.
What is World Environment Day?
World Environment Day (WED) is a global event held on June 5th every year in more than 100 countries to raise awareness about the environment and take action. The United Nations initiated WED in 1974, and it takes place in a different country each year, emphasizing a specific theme. On June 5th, 2023, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Côte d’Ivoire, with support from the Netherlands, will host the largest international day for the environment. This year’s campaign is #BeatPlasticPollution which urges the world to work together in finding solutions to fight against plastic pollution. This event will highlight the remarkable environmental efforts of Côte d’Ivoire through written stories, short videos, and other online communications.
Côte d’Ivoire has taken a leading role in combating plastic pollution. Since 2014, the country has banned the use of plastic bags to promote the use of reusable packaging. Moreover, the city of Abidjan, the nation’s largest city, has become a hub for environmentally conscious start-ups.
Although plastic serves various important purposes, our excessive reliance on single-use plastic items has led to significant negative impacts on the environment, society, economy, and health.
Globally, people buy one million plastic bottles every minute, and approximately five trillion plastic bags are used annually. Shockingly, half of all plastic produced is intended for single use, meaning it is used only once before being discarded.
Every year, the world produces over 430 million tonnes of plastic. Astonishingly, less than 10 percent of this plastic is recycled. Around 19-23 million tonnes of plastic end up in lakes, rivers, and oceans each year. Microplastics, which are tiny particles up to 5mm in size, contaminate our food, water, and even the air we breathe. It is estimated that each person consumes over 50,000 plastic particles annually, and even more, if inhalation is considered. The improper disposal or burning of single-use plastic has severe consequences for both human health and biodiversity, polluting ecosystems from mountain peaks to the deepest ocean depths.
Despite having scientific knowledge and solutions to address this issue, it is crucial for governments, companies, and all stakeholders to significantly increase their efforts and take swift action to solve this crisis. This emphasizes the immense importance of World Environment Day in mobilizing transformative actions from every corner of the world.
The goal is to make people aware of the harmful effects of their consumption habits and to emphasize that their individual actions can contribute to positive environmental changes. It is crucial to bring about transformative environmental changes to create a more sustainable Earth, and everyone has a role to play in achieving this.
Plastic pollution is not only an environmental crisis but also an economic and social one. The cost of managing and mitigating plastic waste is staggering, draining resources that could be better allocated to other pressing issues. Moreover, plastic pollution disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities and exacerbates social inequalities.
World Environment Day 2023 serves as a reminder of the urgent need to address plastic pollution. Through collective action, we can beat this environmental crisis. Governments, industries, communities, and individuals must come together to implement innovative solutions, reduce plastic production and consumption, improve waste management, and promote sustainable alternatives.