In 2019, a “big fire of the century” is burning on the land of South America. The Amazon forest, known as the “lungs of the earth”, was burned for weeks due to deliberate arson. The most vibrant and alive place on earth has been turned into a fireball.
At one time, the increasing demand for food left people with no choice but to burn off some trees and to grow food on the burned land, leading to a continuous reduction in forest area. For many years, a considerable amount of countries have adopted similar production modes, in which our food security is guaranteed at the cost of our environment. Such modes have caused a series of environmental problems. Developing countries with poor capacity to cope bear the brunt, while developed countries are not immune to the impact: global climate change, ozone depletion, reduction in biodiversity, land desertification, forest vegetation destruction, water crisis, acid rain pollution…
World Environment Day: the day and those days when we all share a common fate
“For the mother earth, will the mankind be a murderer or a rescuer?”
Since the twentieth century, countries around the world have engaged themselves in vigorous industrialization movements. While us the mankind continuously broke through the limits of productivity, we have also placed an unbearable burden on the environment on which we depend. Mother Earth will eventually be left with nothing but wounds as the result of the growing overload; only by overcoming the unbridled greed that leads to self-destruction will humanity be able to rejuvenate her.
Back on June 5, 1972, the United Nations held its first Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, and adopted the famous Declaration of the Human Environment. For the first time in human history, a conference was held to study the protection of the human environment on a worldwide scale.
This conference put forward an environmental protection slogan that resounds throughout the world: “Only One Earth”. This is the strongest voice of the times for all mankind to unitedly preserve and improve the human environment.
In October 1972, under the concerted efforts of all parties, the 27th General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the recommendation of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment to designate 5 June as World Environment Day. Regardless of religion, belief, nationality, rich or poor… Everyone enjoys the bliss of nature from birth, and it should be the obligation of each and every one of us to be grateful to nature and repay her. On such a special occasion of World Environment Day, the theme should be giving up prejudice and working jointly to build a better environment.
Don’t you see the fog casting a veil over the sun and our landscape turning bleak?
Will the mere establishment of World Environment Day change all these?
No, just a day’s effort is far from enough in changing the world. But World Environment Day indeed serves as a link between the past and the future. On this special day, ask yourself:
Would you choose to drive or walk for short-distance trips?
Would you choose to use one side or both sides of a piece of A4 paper?
Would you use plastic bags or cloth bags when shopping at malls?
Every decision we make affects the way the environment presents itself. World Environment Day was established by the United Nations not only to reach a world-renowned agreement within a single day or to create a miracle of lucid water and lush mountains, but also to enable everyone to be aware of the changes of the environment. Then, people will start from the trivial things to develop the awareness and habits of caring for the environment, so as to reach a reconciliation between human beings and nature.
Just like the determination of human beings, stated by the United Nations in Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to “protect the Earth and its natural resources forever”, our participation in World Environment Day and in environmental protection is not only for the sake of the harmony and beauty of the living environment of the present generation, but also for the sake of leaving clean water and blue sky for the next generation.
Development or Environmental Protection?
Protecting environment ≠ Lagging behind!
We may not be able to tell the full story of the value of environmental protection, but we can see the wealth generated from industrialization. The easy and tempting option of abandoning environmental protection for rapid economic development has led many countries to embark on the path of violent industrialization. At the beginning of the 20th century, London was trapped in the smog produced by the transpiration of coal fuel; in 1930, over 60 people died within a single week in the Maas Valley industrial area of Belgium, in which the harmful smoke was unable to be vented; and in 1943, 1955 and 1970, Los Angeles suffered three times from photochemical pollution caused by the burning of gasoline, which resulted in the illness and death of a large number of citizens.
However, a truly mature and rational society should not be entirely dominated by its economy. Excessive and unreasonable economic development often comes at the cost of the destruction of environment and human ecology. In the long run, the society as a whole is bound to fall into an inexorable quagmire. The protection of the environment has become the basic state policy of our country. General Secretary Xi Jinping has long used the phrase “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” to elaborate the idea that protecting and improving our ecological environment is protecting and developing our productivity. An environment hard to be regenerated is a valuable resource itself. More importantly, an unpolluted environment can actually have various added economic value, such as the potential of developing tourism and operating green industry. The parallel development between economy and environment is still in the stage of exploration with countless possibilities. It is exactly because it is unknown that it is worth pursuing.
China is going GREEN
Activities and conferences of World Environment Day were held in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou in 1993, 2002, and 2019 respectively. With the theme “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” in 2017, “act towards a beautiful China” in 2018, and “beat air pollution” in 2019, China, based on its need for development, in line with the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, is firmly fulfilling its responsibilities and obligations for ecological environment construction.
China’s environmental governance and construction is by no means a nine days’ wonder, nor can it be accomplished in a short period of time. Countless workers, designers, farmers, scientists… are making arduous efforts on it. When we see the lushness of Saihanba Forest Farm and the decreasing size of Gobi Desert year by year, we should not only admire the magnificent scenes that has been rejuvenated, but also see the contributions made by the countless strugglers who are fighting against the sand on the front line. Their wrinkled foreheads and chapped hands are immortal medals.
Boosting Green Development: Youth of the World are in ACTION
“Give as much light as the heat can produce. Even if it’s just like fireflies, it can glow in the dark.” Young people can do their utmost to make their contributions to the environment, the society and the world.
Today, more and more young people and youth social organizations are beginning to notice the deteriorating environment, and they are using what they have learned to contribute to the improvement of global environment.
They gathered together from all over the world for their dream about environmental protection.
(On 17th June, 2016, 20 foreign environmental protection volunteers from the British Consulate General in Wuhan, together with the young volunteers of the Mulan Mountain Youth League Committee, carried out environmental protection public welfare activities under the theme of “protect the environment, beautify the scenic spots”.)
Voices from the Philippines
In the Philippines, a group of people detected a sense of crisis that the healthy balance between people and nature on the island has been gradually falling apart. They spontaneously established a social enterprise called United Marinduquenians Inc. (UMI), which is dedicated to restoring the ecology and developing a green and sustainable economy through reforestation.
UMI is located in Marinduque province, an island province in the central Philippines. The island is called “the heart of the Philippines” because its shape very much resembles a heart. There were vast forests on the island, acting as the natural shield for the island. The diversified ecosystems and steep terrain guaranteed abundant precipitation resources, promoting the rapid development of planting, fishing and breeding industries, which eventually formed the most important source of income for the island residents. The vast forests also cooled the air on the island, which, combined with a diversified forest landscape, provided a variety of possibilities for the island’s tourism industry.
Unfortunately, the minerals in the forest became the tool of making fortune. The large scale of mineral excavation increased the area of bare surface and destroyed the original forest ecosystem. The landscape of virgin rainforest disappeared. Although further development of the mining industry was suspended due to accidents, the consequences of over-exploitation, which seriously weakened the natural advantages of the island, did not disappear. The destruction of a large number of trees together with the heavy rain throughout the year, if last long, can make the soil erosion more and more serious until one day endangering the local agricultural development and people’s lives.
At a time when the survival crisis of the island was looming, UMI became more and more keenly aware that it is urgent to protect the forest. They hope to save the environment through reforestation, and at the same time provide sustainable engine for development of local economy.
With the support of the government, members of UMI are actively carrying out activities to reforest the island. By 2019, UMI has planted 2000 cocoa seedlings. At the same time, it also recruited forest rangers from local people to promote employment, solving the unemployment problem under the pandemic to a certain extent. In the future, UMI will grow more crops with both economic and environmental benefits, and recruit more local people who are poor or unemployed.
Please look at the world carefully, and you can see that lucid waters and lush mountains are devoured by cold concrete forests and insatiable human desire. Nature has been making concessions for mankind, yet there will be an end.
Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets so we need to protect the environment without delay. The development of human society should not be cruel and at the expense of sacrificing ecological environment, for it is by no means of progress, instead, it will result in self-destruction.
We need the planet MORE than the planet needs us
As young people, we should all be rising waves joining into the surging river of environmental protection, contributing to the protection of ecological environment and the sustainable development of human beings.
About us: SRP (Social Responsibility Practitioner) is dedicated to fulfilling Chinese social responsibilities and achieving Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. We have turned ideals into actions and assumed responsibilities of the young generation in the world’s environmental protection cause.
This time, together let’s be the guardian of our environment.
We got video clips to show more about World Environment Day and the idea from Chinese youth and our Philippines friends. Click here to check it out.