The annual World Environment Day was celebrated on June 5th in more than 100 countries, and it is a day used by the United Nations to stimulate worldwide awareness and encourage political action in support of environmental issues.
In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the state of the environment in which we live – the air around us, our water supply, our forests and our animals. There have been more environmental and ecological initiatives carried out by corporates and individuals alike than ever before, and the words “green”, “sustainability” and “eco-friendly” have become household terms around the world in everyday life. Such an overwhelmingly important part of our lives and our well-being, therefore, needs a certain special day to remind us just how vital it is – and that day is World Environment Day (WED).
Although similar to Earth Hour and Earth Day, most people are not as familiar with WED. This year, WED’s chosen theme was, ‘Forests: Nature at Your Service’, to encourage forest conservation and sustainable consumption for green growth, and in support of the UN International Year of Forests initiative.
WED 2011 was hosted by India and thousands of people across the country marked the day with activities ranging from tree planting to community clean-ups.
ICICI, India’s biggest private bank, led a “pledge for the planet” campaign that saw 8,362 bank employees make small but meaningful environmental commitments such as switching to low-energy bulbs and using the stairs at work.
Meanwhile Infosys, India’s second largest IT firm, launched two major activities for their employees’ children. The “Petit-Infoscions” took part in a Walkathon to bring attention to the conservation of the rapidly disappearing Bellandur Lake, before planting 20,000 native trees in Ramnagaram Forest in Bangalore. Coca-Cola India also announced the launch of eKO cool solar coolers designed to be climate friendly while generating more income for rural retailers, who have limited/intermittent access to electricity. The Eco-Needs Foundation launched a Mountain Conversation campaign to petition against the excavation of mountain faces and the resulting deforestation in Aurangabad, Mumbai and Pune.
There were also several celebrations around the world for the day:
In Pakistan, children took part in an art competition on forests and wildlife. Saving Wetlands Sky Project (SWSH) and Shandoor Local Support Organization (SLSO) jointly celebrated WED at Government Middle School, in Teru valley of District Ghizer. The event was attended by local community members and government officials, among others.
In Australia, an estimated 10,000 people crowded onto the lawns of Melbourne’s State Library to listen to speakers and music in a family friendly rally with lots of placards, banners and beanies proclaiming the importance of going green. Also in Australia, the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland held the 31st Sunshine Coast World Environment Day Festival. Under the banner 'A Festival of Ideas' the 2011 festival had a strong sustainability focus and featured more exhibitors than ever before.
Ricoh Europe, a specialist in office solutions, IT services and production printing, announced its continued support of WED by expanding its activities to 30 days, allowing employees more time to get involved and support its sustainability and biodiversity commitments. This year is the sixth time Ricoh has aligned with WED to raise awareness of its commitment to reducing its environmental impacts and to encourage positive change among employees, suppliers, and customers.
Ecology and Environment Inc, a US-based global leader in environmental management, held the Project Earth 2011 World Environment Day Contest. Schools from around the world submitted entries featuring environmental projects, activities, and actions that they are taking to conserve resources, reduce the size of their carbon footprint, and be better stewards of the environment. This year’s winner was International School Brunei, which was recognized for its Eco Week which involved several innovative activities intended to raise environmental awareness and educate primary school students about the impact our everyday decisions have on the environment.
Eco Week activities included a No Power Hour, a Pass on the Paper exercise, Eco poetry and songs, an Eco pledge, games made from recycled materials, a Trash to Panache recycled clothing project, a beach clean-up, and an Idea competition.
WED 2011 was a huge success around the world, and it is a day for people from all walks of life to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations. Individuals and businesses united to show that they all truly care about the future of our planet and what it gives to us, and that in turn sends a global message that if we all work together to do the little things – recycling what we can, making sure our taps don’t drip, switching off our geysers at night – these small acts will add up to one huge global accomplishment: saving our planet.