World Environment Day (WED) celebrations first began in 1972 to promote environmental awareness and encourages political attention and action. The WED 2011 is special for people of Indian sub-continent since India since these are one of the fastest growing economies in the world that is embracing the process of a transition to a Green Economy. For the first time ever, India also plays the global host to this day.
India’s offer to host WED and the government’s commitment to work with the global community for sustainable development is important since India, the country of a billion plus population and one of the largest economies of the world, will continue to play a very important role in defining the terms of environmental debate at the global level.
WED is also being seen as the inauguration of a series of events leading up to the hosting of the 11th CoP (Conference of Parties) to the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity). The CoP will flag off the celebrations of the international decade for biodiversity.
The theme for the WED 2011 is “Forests: Nature at Your Service” similar to the UN’s declaration of the year 2011 as the International Year of Forests. The celebration is aimed at highlighting the crucial environmental and economic roles played by the forests. Forests cover one third of the Earth’s land mass, performing vital functions and services which make our planet alive and going. More than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for livelihood. Forests also play a key role in our battle against climate change, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide.
“It is not just environmental issues. It is also developmental issues”, said Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. Truly it is.
In his message, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said “this year marks a first for the long standing relationship between India and the United Nations.”
“With a population of 1.2 billion people, a rapidly growing economy and a diverse cultural past, present and future there is enormous potential for India to catalyse and to champion sustainable development nationally and internationally,” Steiner said.
According to the UNEP, India has successfully introduced projects that track the health of nation’s plants, animals, water and other natural resources including the Sundarbans– the largest deltaic mangrove forest in the world, and home to one of India’s most iconic wildlife species: the tiger.
Two Indian cities – Delhi and Mumbai – are the venue for this year’s global celebration of the environment. A myriad of activities are being organised to inspire Indians and people around the world to take action for the environment.
Everyone counts in this initiative and WED relies on all of you to make this happen! If you feel for our forests, if you care for ‘our common environment’ and if you believe that the future generations have as much a right to live as we do, speak it out and make sure your voice is heard. This WED 2011, you MUST be the change!
With inputs from Delhi Greens and TOI