World Environment Day: the wake-up call

World Environment Day is the biggest international day for the environment, with over 150 countries celebrating this year. Marking a day of “celebration, protection and restoration of the planet”, the organisers (the UN ) engage with governments, businesses, society, schools and celebrities . With the “only one earth” slogan turning 50 this year, there is no doubt that there is an increased consciousness of the huge strides humanity has yet to take to protect the earth. In fact, the call for change is louder than ever.

The Stockholm Conference, a group of environmental advocates, has made clear that human development is a main driver of environmental degradation. The financial and social systems that hold everyone in place “fail to account for the essential benefits society gets from nature” - in other words, humans no longer understand how dependent they are on nature. They stress the threat that this escalating development holds over any achievements society has made, as environmental decline is resulting in costly and harmful risks.

So to combat this trend of environmental decline, the Stockholm Conference has set out a series of helping aims. Firstly, and most obviously, the Conference stresses education. This is a famous tool for environmental conservation, encouraging communities to become more environmentally friendly. There is an imperative need for societal norms and values surrounding the environment to change - and education is key.

Secondly, the transformation of economic and financial systems - as well as food, water and energy systems - to become more sustainable. The Stockholm Conference stresses the importance of governmental intervention, particularly in the form of providing incentives to businesses (so they use environmentally friendly frameworks). They also want an investment into low-carbon and nature-friendly technologies, all in aims of shifting towards sustainability.

In terms of transforming the food systems, there should be a pivot towards reducing food waste (in Europe this can be seen through the creation of the TooGoodToGo app), and increasing the roles of small-scale farmers (particularly the roles of women). Many low-income areas, reliant on farm work, are underperforming due to women being constrained. Women being allowed to participate within farm work has been found to relieve poverty and increase a country’s development. Clearly showing how there are no downsides to women participating within the workforce.

And the aims seem to have done the trick, with companies celebrating World Environment Day by making pledges to increase sustainability. One of the world’s fastest growing engineering services, Quest Global, has pledged to planting 500,000 trees globally by 2025. Or more simply, 25 trees per employee.

Another company - Deliveroo, arguably more well-known - is also making pledges. This company has many people relying on the efficient and hassle-free food delivery service. In fact, 8 million British Citizens use deliveroo per month. Yet it is also well-known that this company leaves a large environmental stain, so to combat this they have teamed up with five different restaurants to push a more environmentally friendly business model. This will include environmentally friendly packaging - that’s bio-degradable - and donating to habitat restoration charities.

The World Environment Day website itself is pushing the education of issues, hosting an array of events that can be signed up to and lectures that can be watched. These are all easily accessible, with lessons that can be carried forward to a more sustainable future. World Environment Day is not only a chance for people to improve, but a second chance for the planet.

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