World Environment Day: History, Significance, Theme and Celebrations

Every year, World Environment Day is observed on June 5. This day is celebrated to encourage awareness and environmental protection. According to United Nations, "The celebration of this day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises, and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment."

World Environment Day: History

World Environment Day (WED) is one of the more unique and special holidays because of its history and its many firsts. It was created on the first day of the first-ever UN conference which focused on humans and how they interact with the environment, National Today cites.

However, this didn’t happen overnight. Sweden first suggested having such a conference to the UN way back in 1968. And in 1969, the UN agreed that after 3 years they would have a conference in Sweden that focused on environmental issues. Interestingly enough, the conference was led by Maurice Strong, a Canadian diplomat who worked in the oil and mineral industry, who also had a soft spot for the environment.

Finally, it all came together in 1972, after 4 years of preparations and $30,000,000 later. World leaders from around the world sat together to discuss how they can raise awareness to protect our environment — and it was then WED was made. Then 2 years later, the first-ever WED was celebrated with the slogan “Only One Earth.”

Ever since then, WED has been completely embraced by people everywhere, so much so that it’s even slowly creeping into pop culture (and we love it!) Celebrities around the world all encourage people, in their own unique way, to do their part and “ save the world”. Fan-favorites Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep are some of the many who constantly speak out about environmental awareness. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re a famous actor, an athlete or a student in college: gather your friends and spend a day outdoors doing fun activities towards preserving this beautiful planet. Believe us when we say, you’ll have a blast and feel so much better afterward.

World Environment Day: Significance

The main idea behind marking June 5 as World Environment Day is so that we are aware of what is needed to be done to protect our environment. The day raises awareness about environmental issues like global warming, marine pollution, human over-population, protection of wildlife, and sustainable consumption. It has spread so far and wide, that WED has become a global platform for countries to reach out to the public.

World Environment Day: History, Significance, Theme and Celebrations
Photo: ESG Clarity


'Many Species. One Planet. One Future', was the theme of 2010. Hosted in Rwanda, it celebrated the diversity of life on Earth as part of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. The world environment day of 2011 was hosted by India and the theme was Forests—Nature At Your Service. World Environment Day 2012's theme was Green Economy. The celebrations were held in Brazil. WED 2013 was themed on the footprint of food, under the slogan “Think, Eat, Save”. The UN reminded us that one third of all food produced fails to make it from farm to table, which means 1.3 billion tonnes of food, worth 1,000 billion dollars, are wasted. This amount would be enough to feed the 870 million people suffering from hunger around the world, as well as reduce CO2 emissions significantly, Business Standard cites.

2014 was dedicated to the sea, under the theme “Raise your Voice not the Sea Level!” in order to raise awareness on the problems island nations are facing due to rising sea levels. In 2015, WED was hosted by Milan, Italy, under the theme “Seven Billion People. One Planet. Consume with Care”. That year, WED was the most popular subject on Twitter in more than 20 countries. “Zero tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife” was the theme of the 2016 edition, hosted by Angola, whilst the 2017 edition, was held under the slogan “Connecting People with Nature” to highlight the crucial role we play in protecting the planet, to which we are closely linked and depend on, with official celebrations taking place in Canada. Whilst the 2018 edition, hosted by India, aimed to “Beat Plastic Pollution”. In 2019, WED focussed its efforts to “Beat Air Pollution”, an issue chosen by China, a country deeply affected by this environmental problem.

Bizarre, Unique and Special Holidays in June Bizarre, Unique and Special Holidays in June

Sustainability and the protection of the environment are without a doubt among the most pressing issues we face in the world today. The core necessities of life all come from Mother Nature and, unfortunately, we take it for granted. World Environment Day encourages everyone from individuals to large-scale corporations to be more conscious of their impact on the environment.

A theme is observed every year. The theme for 2020 was ‘Biodiversity.’ Advocacy campaigns and calls for change are heavily promoted, all the while educating others to adopt healthy actions and break patterns that contribute to the degradation of the ecosystem. Just the simple act of switching off unnecessary lights has a tremendous effect. Exhibitions and events take place at educational institutions, with influential spokespeople in attendance.

Theme of World Environment Day

The theme for 2021 World Environment Day is Ecosystem Restoration. In 2021, Pakistan will play a global host of World Environment Day. The event will see the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

World Environment Day: History, Significance, Theme and Celebrations
Photo: Ayudh India

World Environment Day - Celebrations

World Environment Day is celebrated in many ways in countries such as Kenya, New Zealand, Poland, Spain and the United States. Activities include street rallies and parades, as well as concerts, tree planting, and clean-up campaigns. In many countries, this annual event is used to enhance political attention and action towards improving the environment. This observance also provides an opportunity to sign or ratify international environmental conventions, as cited by Time and Date.

World Environment Day: Facts with numbers

90 billion tons – the number of resources extracted from Earth every year.

7.8 billion – the number of people populating Earth.

4.1 billion – the number of consumers in the world.

5.6 billion – the number of consumers expected by 2030.

70% – the percentage of the world’s resources currently being overused.

2.12 billion tons – the number of waste dumped every year.

50 million tons – the number of e-waste produced every year.

$7.8 trillion – the value of the global production of synthetic chemicals.

2050 – the year when the world population is expected to be too big to feed.

2070 – the year when coral reefs are expected to be gone altogether.

READ MORE: The Most Important Festivals and Holidays around the World in June

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