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World Environment Day: Ecosystem Restoration is the Key to Revive Our Degraded Planet

Every year, people around the globe celebrate World Environment Day through various pre- planned activities like Massive Plantation- Drive, Cleanliness- Drive, Organizing Conferences, Seminars & Meetings, joining online Protests and participating in number of environmental global movements.

Shivam Dwivedi
World Environment Day
World Environment Day

Every year, people around the globe celebrate World Environment Day through various pre-planned activities like Massive Plantation- Drive, Cleanliness- Drive, Organizing Conferences, Seminars & Meetings, joining online Protests, and participating in a number of environmental global movements.

Despite all these efforts, the condition of our planet is deteriorating every day. Why is it so? As per my opinion, the reason for this is that all these massive activities are planned to perform only for that single day i.e. 5th June, with an intention to grab global attention and media coverage.

Apart from this, the same is happening at the policy level (National and International both). You might have heard about many big initiatives like Biodiversity Convention, COP (COP 26, this year on November 1-12), Ramsar Convention,  UN-REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation), and REDD+ programs at Global Level. At the National level, you may be aware of some acts like the Environment Protection Act, Wildlife (Protection) Act, The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, etc. Although these laws provide a framework to mankind for environmental protection their failure at the implementation level gives them a setback and portrays these Conventions & Acts as mere illusion and mirage.

Theme & Significance of World Environment Day 2021

  • On 5th June, every year, we commemorate World Environment Day to spread awareness about conserving our mother Nature as well as burning issues such as climate change, water pollution, air pollution, overpopulation, global warming, and every other issue affecting our environment.

  • The first World Environment Day was celebrated in 1974, hosted by the United States with the theme of ‘Only One Earth’. This year’s theme is ‘Ecosystem Restoration’ which will focus on reviving or recovering our ecosystems and assisting the undamaged natural resources.

  • This year’s World Environment Day will be hosted by Pakistan. On this day, we will also see the launch of the ‘UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’.

  • This day raises awareness about environment conservation as well as taking better actions to fight climate change.

Last year, during the lockdown, all of us noticed the mother earth rejuvenating back to greener lands and cleaner skies. You might have witnessed chirping birds on your balcony and pleasant weather throughout the summer and winter season, while the human world is still seeking to resist a dangerous virus. During Lockdown, our environment took the opportunity to renew itself and heal from the wounds we left on it.

The theme ‘Ecosystem Restoration’ can be achieved through many forms like by Growing Trees, Greening Cities, Reviving Gardens, Adopting Eco-Friendly Diets or Cleaning Up Rivers and Coasts. This is the generation that can make peace with nature.

Future Threats: 5 Serious Impacts of Environmental Degradation that will Peril our world

In accordance with the assessment by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) titled “Making Peace With Nature”, Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss & Pollution are posing a triple threat to human survival due to Environmental Degradation.

Therefore, Environmental degradation is one of the largest threats that are being looked at in the world today. It’s simply defined as the undesirable destructive changes in the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water, and soil; the deterioration of ecosystems; habitat loss; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution.

Environmental degradation can happen in many ways. At the point when environments are wrecked or common assets are drained, the environment is considered to be corrupted and harmed.

This imbalance poses a threat to life existing in the ecosystem. Some of the impacts are worth ignoring as they may be changed by the natural restoration of the balance of the ecosystem but some discussed below are worth alarming and concerning impacts:

1. Catastrophic Weather Events:

  • When an extreme weather event happens, the public wants to know- Is this climate change? In recent years, media and scientific journals have given increasing attention to worldwide extreme weather events and their possible relation to climate change and specifically to the recent warming of the earth's climate. This warming which has been linked to human CO₂ emissions has been referred to by the IPCC as 'Anthropogenic Global Warming' (AGW).

  • Extreme weather events are becoming an all-too-familiar sight. Natural Calamities such as Floods, Cyclones, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Tsunami, avalanches, etc. uproot human settlements and cause adverse effects on their livelihoods.

  • Global Warming due to environmental degradation has increased the Intensity & Frequency of many Extreme weather events, which is posing a serious threat to human survival.

2. Global Health Crisis:

  • Human health is heavily impacted by environmental degradation. Reduction in the quality of our natural resources like air & water is responsible for millions of death and billions of illnesses annually around the globe.

  • Landfills further increase the chance of hazardous materials getting into the food chain which causes bio- magnification and the ultimate risk of developing chronic diseases. Moreover, these toxic wastes and harmful chemicals from factories, agriculture, and automobiles cause illnesses and death in children and adults.

  • Very recently, we have seen the coronavirus crisis has brought many nations’ public health systems to their knees. Scenes of hospitals running out of beds, and people searching desperately for life-saving oxygen or critical medical supplies for their loved ones have captured international headlines. This World Environment Day Let’s Pledge to lend a hand towards Saving the Environment as our world can’t afford another pandemic.

3. Global Food Security Crisis:

The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) examined how agriculture will be affected by the deterioration of the environment. The panel concluded that if average global temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius over the pre-industrial average- something that previous reports by the panel have recommended could happen by the end of the century- the risk of global food supply instabilities ‘is projected to be very high’, according to the report.

Apart from this, India is suffering from one of the largest numbers of undernourished people in the world, in spite of having one of the world’s largest farm outputs. In current times when the world was fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, food security was in an alarming situation across India. With situations like lockdown, many families lost their source of income which ultimately led to challenging situations for the availability of food for all.

4. Global Financial Crisis:

  • Climate change poses a very serious risk to global financial stability. In the financial system, systemic risks are risks that have the capacity to destabilize the normal functioning of the system and lead to serious negative consequences for the real economy.

  • The increase in frequency and severity of catastrophic weather events can lead to destabilizing losses for insurance companies, banks, and other financial intermediaries with direct and indirect exposure to different affected industries and assets.

  • The core banking system of every country is also directly exposed to the physical risks of climate change. In different parts of the country, commercial real estate, mortgage, business, and agricultural loans- as well as derivative instruments tied to these markets- are susceptible to losses related to severe weather events and other environmental changes. This collapse of entire financial sector results in loss of livelihoods for many people which further worsened the situation.

5. Rise in Geo-Political Tensions:

  • Recent years 2020 and 2021 have seen a complete upset of geopolitics’ fragile balance. That could make the global stability of the next couple of decades a complete question mark. There is a rise in nationalist sentiment worldwide. Headlines of newspapers have been dominated by the never-ending political drama that’s been fuelling an ‘unprecedented geopolitical shift’ whether it’s managing unpredictable China or Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

  • Geo-Political tensions may be further fueled by natural resource depletion and it would give rise to attacks, piracy, and warfare among nations.

Let's Plant for the Better Future!
Let's Plant for the Better Future!

What needs to be done?

Against the backdrop of environmental crisis, the ‘UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’ is an opportunity to revive the natural ecosystem that supports us all. Here, I would like to discuss some suggestions, which if implemented sincerely by respective stakeholders, have the potential to Restore & Revive our Degraded Planet:  

1. Invest Heavily in Restoration Activities:

Restoration activities should be planned and start at the lower level of governance through the participation of local communities. The main problem is that the organizations driving such activities on the ground are often underfunded and face financial insecurity. While the benefits of restoration far outweigh the costs, it can only happen with long-term financing. Therefore, the Governments, International Lenders, Development Agencies, the Private Sector, and Individuals (Volunteers) will have to ramp up their support for it.

2. Behavioural Shift:

  • Eco-friendly behavior is the need of hours to protect our environment. A person having an eco-friendly attitude chooses everything consciously in accordance with the environment i.e. from the consumption of food- clothing- transport that are not harmful to the environment.

  • Environmental awareness can be an important factor in inculcating eco-friendly behavior in a person. The UN Decade will also work with all partners to identify and encourage restoration-friendly consumption. This can range from changes in diets to promoting restoration- based products.

3. Celebrate a Culture of Restoration:

The power to restore our environment does not lie only with governments, experts, and practitioners alone. Therefore, reviving the planet is a cultural challenge too. The United Nations Decade’s strategy, therefore, calls on artists, storytellers, producers, musicians, writers, and connectors to join the mission ‘Generation- Restoration’.

4. Capacity Building: 

Capacity building of weaker, downtrodden & marginalized groups is crucial for the success of restoration of ecosystems. Communities such as indigenous peoples, women, and youth are vital and will play an active role in restoration.

5. Build Up the Future Generation:

As we all know, youth and future generations are most affected by the current rapid deterioration of ecosystems. They also stand to benefit the most from a restoration economy. Therefore, every state government should devise such policies & strategies that link the wellbeing of youth and the goals of restoration. Because education is an important tool for restoration as it will transform today’s children into ecosystem ambassadors and provide skills for sustainable jobs.

Restoring the entire ecosystem is not an easy task. Therefore, there is a need for a collaborative approach involving all stakeholders like Governments, conservationists, financiers, and the General Public in an effort to identify the barriers to Restoration and drive grassroots actions. Mahatma Gandhiji once said: "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs but not every man's greed".

Your Every Conscious Choice can Save the Planet. Let’s Bring the Change in Ourselves before It’s Too Late!

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