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World Environment Day

June 4, 2011

Environment Day

June 5 has always been a day of hectic activity, primarily for environmentalists, heads of governments, policy-makers and a few corporate bodies the worldover.

India will host this year’s World Environment Day tomorrow and the government has announced that the country will continue to play a very important role in defining the terms of environmental debate at the global level.

Each year a different country is chosen as the principal venue for the global celebration of World Environment Day which falls on June 5 and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has selected India as the global host of this year’s programme.

The theme of this years celebration is “Forests: Nature at Your Service”, which highlights the crucial environmental and economic roles played by the forests, particularly in India.

“The message is largely to the international community that India is willing and determined to play and is playing a very important role in defining the terms of environmental debate,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in his message to the world on the occasion.

“It is not just environmental issues. It is also developmental issues. We have seen this in climate change area, we have seen this in biodiversity area and we will continue to be a very pro-active player internationally.”

Explaining why India wanted to become the global host, Ramesh said the theme is about forestry conservation, livelihoods, the balance between economic growth and environmental protection and no other countries exemplifies this challenges more vividly than India.

“And also the fact that in 1972, when first UN conference on world environment took place, the person who brought on to the centre-stage the developmental dimension on the environmental issue was India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi,” the Minister 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.

Points to Ponder

As humanity moves toward the 21st century, we are left with no choice but to redefine the values and principles that underlie our relationship with the Earth. Clearly, a new approach is required.

Creating a Spiritual Culture: The industrial civilisation has brought about an abundance of goods and services to humankind, but also an obsession for materialism and a distortion of human values.

Achieving Environmental Equity: Planet Earth is the common home for all of us. We must all strive to share equitably the benefits and burdens resulting from the use of the environment.

Greening Science and Technology: Science and technology have played a critical role in the development of human history and will be one of the key determining factors in shaping a sustainable future. However, the impacts of technological development and their applications have also become so serious that they threaten the stability of the ecosystem and human society.

Sharing Responsibilities: All members of human society are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the environment as a Whole-Life-System. Individual efforts can be enhanced through building networks within and among all levels of civil society and government, industry and business, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Environmental Education: Education, especially at an early age, has a significant effect on how people form attitudes toward the environment, and is thus crucial. Educational programmes designed to enhance awareness of environmental issues and ethics must be developed and applied at all levels of society through all available and practical means.

International Cooperation: Nations share common responsibilities for preserving Earth’s environment. This amounts to active involvement in regional and international cooperative efforts and joint implementation of environmentally-sound policies, while faithfully complying with established multilateral agreements.

Environmentally-Sound Lifestyle: All members of society must cultivate a lifestyle that accepts and is consistent with sufficiency rather than greed and excess. Bearing in mind that Earth’s resources are limited, each person must avoid a culture of extravagant material consumption and pursue ways to preserve the planet by improving consumption patterns.

Active Involvement: Individuals are encouraged to participate both morally and politically in all levels in the decision-making process of environmental policies in order to improve the quality of decision-making, avoid corruption, and ensure that their interests can be properly represented.

Role of “Watchdog” and Liaison: NGOs must serve the role of “watchdog” and must be prepared to assess and evaluate policy decisions, and where necessary, propose alternative environmental and development policies.

Environmentally-Friendly Business Practices: The industrial sector must actively apply eco-efficiency principles in order to use less energy and materials for the same amount of output and to reduce emissions and waste. This requires the widespread adoption of environmentally-friendly production technologies, an increased use of recycled materials, and a greater emphasis on substituting goods with services. The financial and insurance sectors must also increasingly direct investment toward environmentally-sound projects.

Interdisciplinary Approach: Science and technology alone cannot resolve the impending environmental crisis. An interdisciplinary approach, which includes other branches of academic endeavors such as the humanities and social sciences, is needed to develop active research programs for a better understanding of the increasingly complicated environmental problems. The key is to recognise that humans and the natural environment are interdependent and part of a larger entity, the “Whole-Life-System.”

Environment Oath

1 I realize that every mature tree by photosynthesis absorbs 20 kgs of Carbon dioxide every year. By the same process each tree lets out about 14 Kg of Oxygen every year.

2 I will plant and nurture ten trees and will ensure my parents, my sisters and brothers plant trees and my neighbours also plant ten trees each. I will be an

ambassador for tree mission in my locality.

3 I will keep my house and its surroundings clean and use products which are bio-degradable to the extent possible.

4 I will promote a culture of environment friendliness, through recycling and conservation of water and other recyclable materials both at home and school.

5 When I take a professional career, I will take decision with respect of organizational processes which protects the environment and preserves the bio-diversity.

6 I will encourage the use of renewable energy to the maximum extent possible.

7 I will spread the awareness about the need to preserve the environment in my home, in my locality and among my student friends.

8 I will engage the water conservation, especially by rain water harvesting and spread the message in my family and friends.

By : APJ Abdul Kalam

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