Every year, June 5 marks an important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. It is ‘World Environment Day’ – the United Nations’ biggest annual event for positive action towards environmental conservation.
Since the first World Environment Day was celebrated in 1974, the event has gradually become a global platform for positive public outreach on the environment in over 100 countries.
Air Pollution – the theme for 2019
Each World Environment Day draws attention to a particularly persistent environmental concern, and this year’s theme is “Air pollution” – or more precisely #BeatAirPollution.
The goal is to call on governments, industry, communities, and individuals to take action to explore renewable energy and green technologies, and improve the air quality in their own regions across the globe.
How severe is the air pollution situation today?
We have been polluting the air for centuries. But today, both indoor and outdoor pollution has become an existential challenge that demands immediate attention and action. Nearly 90% of the world’s population or over 6 billion people, one-third of them children, breathe air that puts their health at risk – with every breath. This is at the heart of social justice and global inequality.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 49% in high-income countries and 97% of cities in low and middle-income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet air quality guidelines.
Can we prevent air pollution?
Yes, that’s the good news that this year’s theme draws our attention to. Laws, standards, policies, programmes, investments, and technologies that prevent air pollution need to be implemented.
Just as clean air is a human right, it is also everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the air we breathe does not pose a health hazard to us and others.
What can we do to reduce air pollution?
At its very core, World Environment Day is the “people’s day” for doing something to take care of our planet. That “something” can be local, national or global, solo action or a community event.
Be aware and think consciously how you can play a role in reducing the toxins that pollute our atmosphere. It is commonsensical to take some simple steps to #BeatAirPollution:
-Use public transport or car-pooling, cycle or walk
-Compost organic food items and recycle non-organic trash
-Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy to help cut methane emissions
-Save energy by turning off lights and electronics not in use
-Turn to renewable sources of energy such as solar or wind power
What is the United Nations doing about air pollution?
UN Environment helps countries reduce urban air pollution by adopting cleaner fuels and more efficient vehicle technologies and standards through its ‘Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles.’ Alongside the WHO and the ‘Climate and Clean Air Coalition,’ UN Environment is part of the global Breathe Life campaign, which aims to mobilize cities and individuals to protect our health and planet from the effects of air pollution.
Fifty-two cities, regions and countries have signed up, with 173 actions supported, benefitting more than 153 million citizens. The BreatheLife campaign hopes to sign up at least 500 cities and 20 countries by 2020; the aim is to meet WHO air quality targets by 2030.
TAKE ACTION: Learn how you can combat air pollution-
“Air pollution”, the theme for World Environment Day 2019, is a call to action to combat one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. BuzzOnEarth invites all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the amount of air pollution we produce and thwart its contribution to global warming and its effects on our own health.
Infographics courtesy: United Nations Environment Programme
Social Media hashtags: #WorldEnvironmentDay; #BeatAirPollution
Featured Image by Subhamoy Das – Our Hills are Burning: Forest fires are more rampant with climate change – adding to air pollution. This World Environment Day, even the pure air of the vernal hills of Uttarakhand is unhealthy for life.