World Environment Day 2020

5th June 2020

By Lucy Phillips, President

Today, 5th June 2020, is World Environment Day. This year’s theme is ‘Celebrate Biodiversity’, an urgent call to protect biodiversity. 

What is biodiversity? It describes the variety of life on Earth. It encompasses the 8 million species on the planet – the ecosystems that house them; and the genetic diversity among them. 

The emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the fact that, when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. By upsetting the delicate balance of nature, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens – including coronaviruses – to spread. 

We, like plants, animals, fungi and bacteria, are part of the intricate web of biodiversity, and are just as diverse. If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves and those disproportionately affected by climate change such as people of colour.

We’ve all seen the videos of divers in Indonesia fighting their way through tides of plastic, or the horrible photos of turtles being suffocated by wire or rope. Yes, we are not the ones in these graphic images, but we are disproportionately at the origin of it, by exporting plastic from the West and by increasing inour consumption of goods. Local populations in Indonesia, and generally in the Global South are then being directly affected by the global pollution driven by demand in our homes

Microplastics are pieces of our man-made plastic that weather down to 5mm or less in our oceans, which work their way back to us. In 2017, a study turned on taps in over a dozen countries - 83% of all water samples bobbed bits of plastic. And grabbing a bottle of purified water might not be the answer. In 2018, the WHO got involved with the bottled water industry, following another study involving 259 bottles from nine countries. The contamination was even worse: it hit the 90% mark overall, an average of 325 plastic bits per litre sold.

This may sound pretty doom and gloom, but plans are being made to turn things around. Head to the official World Environment Day website to find out more about what UNEP (UN Environment Programme) and other organisations around the world are doing to tackle threats to biodiversity. 

There is a FASCINATING range of stuff throughout this week which you can browse on the website. Here’s just a couple that we’ve picked out:

Act#ForNature Forum - Youth Voices for Nature: Environmental Governance in the Time of Covid-19 (Open Meeting)

When? Wednesday 10th June, 12pm to 2pm.

What? Have your voice heard! Voices of youth are being called for at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), a meeting that relates directly to their future. This town hall considers environmental governance in the context of COVID-19 - register for a session run by the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.

New Solutions to Plastic Pollution

When? Sunday 7th June, 6pm to 7.30pm.

What? Ahead of World Oceans Day on 8th June, the Natural History Museum has brought together a legendary panel of their own scientists, environmentalists, campaigners and industry with guest speakers. 

Movies for Nature

When? Today, 8am to 8pm.

What? Or, just watch a movie! Today there is a 24-hour free online streaming marathon compiling 11 feature films, medium length and short films that celebrate the beauty of biodiversity.

Seize the rare opportunity to listen to a leading figure at the UN or a top researcher at London’s Natural History Museum, and loads more from around the world. OR don't listen to this post at all and just hashtag #ForNature to spread the word!

It is important to note though, that in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have to remind ourselves that climate justice is racial justice as both are build on extractive systems that put value beyond life. So we encourage you to look further than the UNEP website too!!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about how to move forward with the Black Lives Matter movement and how YOU can make environmentalism anti-racist!