The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) annually organises events for World Environment Day (WED) promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment. This day, established in 1972, shows that concern about the environment goes back to several decades at least. Since its inception it has been celebrated every year on 5 June by engaging governments, businesses, celebrities, civil societies, and citizens to focus their efforts on a pressing environmental issue.
More than 150 countries take part in World Environment Day, and the day focuses on environmental concerns ranging from pollution to global warming, and sustainable food production to protection of wildlife. The World Environment Day 2021, hosted by Pakistan, is the most renowned day for environmental action. This year’s theme is “Ecosystem Restoration”, assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact. Maintaining the environmental integrity is the responsibility of every individual within the society, youth inclusive.
Healthier ecosystems, with richer biodiversity, yield greater benefits such as: more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish, and larger stores of greenhouse gases. All kinds of ecosystems can be restored, including forests, farmlands, cities, wetlands, and oceans. Restoration initiatives can be launched by almost anyone, from governments and development agencies to businesses, communities and individuals. That is because the causes of degradation are many and varied, and can have an impact at different scales.
We, at the World Assembly of Youth (WAY), aim to listen to young people's voices from all around the world, to capture their thoughts, their aspirations for the future as well as reactions on environmental issues. Furthermore, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states our resolve “to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources”. This day will also mark the formal launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030, and it is intended to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems to fight the climate crisis, prevent the loss of a million species and enhance food security water supply and livelihoods.
Restoration is a monumental task and every action counts. Every single day. Every country, company, organization, and individual has a role to play. We urge young people and youth organisations to build momentum and unite the global community in actions for positive change. Living in harmony with nature can be achieved!