Globally, the World Environment Day, WED, is observed each year on June 5 and is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations, UN, stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. It is a day set aside to raise global awareness on the need to take positive environmental action to improve, promote the earth’s environment such as conserving forests and the planet as well as on the importance of preserving our biodiversity.
The theme for this year’s WED 2015, is ‘Seven Billion Dreams, One Planet Consume with Care’, essentially, is aimed at focusing on the need to respect the carrying capacity of the planet and to manage the natural resources efficiently in order to ensure prosperity and overall global well being.
Unarguably, WED remains a veritable means used globally in tackling environmental challenges, which include climate change, global warming, disasters and conflicts, harmful substances, environmental governance, ecosystem management and resource efficiency. The day, also emphasises the importance of protecting our planet and promoting an understanding that each individual can play a significant and effective role in tackling environmental related issues.
Over the years, the WED, continued to receive support from the public, non-profit organisations and government around the world, with various awareness campaigns, clean-ups, concerts, exhibitions, film festivals, community events etc organised to spread the message, which is to improve the quality of life of all living beings on the planet without harming nature.
All these activities are carried out to spread eco-awareness and increase green footprint. In many countries, however, this event is used to enhance political attention and action towards improving the environment as well as providing an opportunity to sign or ratify international environmental conventions. In Nigeria, the focus this year is on the management of sustainable environmental development. Living within planetary boundaries is the most promising strategy for ensuring a healthy future, as human prosperity does not need to cost the earth anything.
As the permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Fatima Mede rightly posited, ’Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less, knowing that rising rates of natural resources use and the environmental impacts that occur is not a necessary by-product of economic growth’.
Therefore, the theme for this year’s celebration is apt, which is on how the well-being of humanity, the environment and functioning of the economies in the end depends on the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources as people are consuming far more natural resources than what the planet earth can sustainably provide. So, we urge all and sundry to cultivate the habit of living sustainably.
It will be recalled that the United Nation Environment Programme, UNEP, in a report stated that many of the earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change. The report based its findings on the high population growth and economic development, said that by 2050, if the current trend of consumption and production remain the same and coupled with the rising population, which is expected to reach 9.6 billion, at least three new planets would be needed to sustain the current ways of living and consumption.
It is against this backdrop of the yearly observant of the WED, that all and sundry are made to know not only the responsibility to care for the earth, but also reminds everyone to become an agent of positive change, as every action counts and when multiplied by a global chorus it becomes exponential in its impact. So, this year’s campaign can help all to take decisions beginning from our individual homes and from other homes, this no doubt will greatly help in reducing the environmental impact. So, we urge all, just like this year’s theme says, ‘Seven Billion Dreams, One Planet Consume with Care’ to help save our environment or consume with ecology in mind.
Unfortunately, our environmental laws have not substantially moved forward. The country is still not able to effectively and appropriately meet the three core functions of environmental laws, namely: preventive, compensatory and remedial functions. Furthermore, our environmental governance is still seriously challenged by problems of unequal inheritance in federalism, insufficient public participation, and lack of cooperative governance, inability to mainstream integrated management and inability to balance environmental sustainability with economic goals, among others. Therefore, the resultant effect is that environmental decision making, standard setting and enforcement strategies are operating in chaos.
Another serious challenge in most of the third world countries like Nigeria is the sad paradox between environment and poverty. In our clime, poverty deepens environmental problems; therefore, the country needs a reorientation that we all must embrace for a sustainable tomorrow.