World Environment Day: Time for Nature
5 June 2020
Today is World Environment Day (WED). Celebrated on the 5 June every year in over 100 countries, this UN established day of action helps raise awareness of pressing global environmental issues. The theme of WED 2020 is ‘Time for Nature’, with a focus on the earth’s role in providing the essential infrastructure that supports all life on earth. In recognition of this important day and message, today’s blog will explore why we need to make more time for nature and how you can get involved.
Why we need to make time for nature
It is no secret that humans have caused large-scale damage to the natural environment. Whilst the extraction of the world’s resources has been hugely significant in the development of civilisation, we are now recognising that if we continue on this path of unsustainable growth, we are putting both our future and the future of all life on earth at risk. WWF estimate that humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970 (WWF, 2018) demonstrating the extent of the ecological damage human activity has caused.
But how does loss of species affect us? The earth and all life upon it (ecosystems) provide the natural resources essential to human life. Known as ‘ecosystem services’, examples of these resources include water, clean air, food, shelter, fuel, a stable climate and protection from extreme weather events. These ecosystems also provide cultural and aesthetic benefits and have been linked to improving mental health (Mind, 2018). Another important feature of ecosystems is their part in conserving biodiversity – ensuring that there is a large variety of different forms of life on the planet. It is believed that without ecological diversity there will be limits to the genetic variety within a species. A smaller pool of genetic characteristics limits the capacity for a population to adapt and increases risk of extinction.
Changing the story
Despite being somewhat overlooked, measures to improve biodiversity are beginning to take root in the UK and across the globe. Last month the European Commission launched their 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, which aims to set binding restoration targets for EU countries by 2021 – a step forward in the protection of nature in Europe. In the UK, the proposed Environment Bill will require new developments to deliver at least a 10% improvement in biodiversity value, ensuring that the growth of the built environment is not at the detriment of the natural environment. Finally, although disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are developing a post-2020 biodiversity framework which will establish globally agreed biodiversity targets. There is still a lot to be achieved, but policy is starting to move in the right direction.
What can you do?
This World Environment Day puts emphasis on raising awareness of how all living things on earth are connected and the need to act. Making full use of the internet in light of current circumstances, WED are delivering an extensive schedule of online events featuring high-profile speakers, panel discussions, music sessions and film screenings. WED are also encouraging participants to raise their voice about the issue on social media using the #ForNature hashtag. For more information you can check their website here.
Are you creating time for nature this World Environment Day?