Editorial Articles


Volume-4,06-12 June 2020

Celebrating The Earth’s Bio-Diversity

Dr. Pawan Kumar 'Bharti'

World Environment Day is the United Nations' principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Held annually since 1974, the Day has also become a vital platform for promoting progress on the environmental dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals. With the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the helm, over 150 countries participate each year. Major corporations, non-governmental organizations, communities, governments and celebrities from across the world adopt the World Environment Day brand to champion environmental causes. This year, Colombia hosted the World Environment Day celebrations on the theme 'Biodiversity'. World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated on the 5th of June every year. First held in 1974, it has been a flagship campaign for raising awareness on emerging environmental issues from marine pollution, human overpopulation, and global warming, to sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. WED has grown to become a global platform for public outreach, with participation from over 150 countries annually. Each year,

WED has a new theme that major corporations, NGOs, communities, governments and celebrities worldwide adopt to advocate environmental causes. World Environment Day was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 on the first day of the Stockholm

Conference on the Human Environment, resulting from discussions on the integration of human interactions and the environment. Two years later, in 1974 the first WED was held with the theme "Only One Earth". Even though WED celebration has been held annually since

1974, in 1987 the idea for rotating the center of these activities through selecting different host countries began. Objectives and History World Environment Day (WED) is 'United Nations' prime vehicle for encouraging awareness and action to protect our environment. World Environment Day has become a global platform for public outreach, with more than 150 countries participating annually. First organized in 1974, it has been a major campaign for environmental issues ranging from marine pollution, human overgrowth, and raising awareness about global warming, sustainable consumption, and wildlife crime. World Environment Day is celebrated in many ways; activities such as campaign clarification, sensitizing the locals about the growing environmental conditions and suggesting ways to prevent them, organizing plays, quizzes, tree plantations, lectures and children’s poster competition, etc. are quite popular. Themes Since last five decades, World Environment Day has been raising awareness, supporting action, and driving change. Here is a glimpse of themes and recent history of last WEDs:

S.N.

Year

Theme/ Slogan

Host nation

1

2020

“Celebrate Biodiversity”.

Colombia & Germany

2

2019

Air Pollution

China

3

2018

Beat Plastic Pollution

India

4

2017

Connecting People to Nature – in the city and on the land, from the poles to the equator

Canada

5

2016

"Go wild for life". This edition of the WED aims to reduce and prevent the illegal trade in wildlife.

Angola

6

2015

"Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care".

Italy

7

2014

International Year of Small Islands Developing States (SIDS). Slogan:  "Raise your voice not the sea level"

Barbados

8

2013

Think. Eat. Save.

Mongolia

9

2012

Green Economy

Brazil

10

2011

Forests-Nature At Your Service

India

11

2010

'Many Species. One Planet. One Future'

Rwanda

12

2009

'Your Planet Needs You – UNite to Combat Climate Change'

Mexico

13

2008

"CO2, Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy."

New Zealand

14

2007

"Melting Ice – a Hot Topic?"

Norway

15

2006

Deserts and Desertification, Slogan: "Don't desert drylands".

Algeria

16

2005

"Green Cities" and the slogan was "Plan for the Planet!".

USA

17

2004

Wanted! Seas and Oceans – Dead or alive?

Spain

18

2003

Water- Two billion people are dying for it!

Lebanon

19

2002

Give Earth a Chance

China

20

2001

Connect with the World wide web of life

Italy & Cuba

21

2000

The environment millennium – Time to act

Australia

22

1999

Our Earth – Our Future – Just Save It!         

Japan

23

1998

For Life on Earth – Save Our Seas    

Russian Federation

24

1997

For Life on Earth       

Republic of Korea

25

1996

Our Earth, Our Habitat, Our Home   

Turkey

26

1995

We the Peoples: United for the Global Environment  

South Africa

27

1994

One Earth One Family           

United Kingdom

28

1993

Poverty and the Environment – Breaking the Vicious Circle

China

29

1992

Only One Earth, Care and Share       

Brazil

30

1991

Climate Change. Need for Global Partnership           

Sweden

31

1990

Children and the Environment          

Mexico

32

1989

Global Warming; Global Warning     

Belgium

33

1988

When People Put the Environment First, Development Will Last          

Thailand

34

1987

Environment and Shelter: More Than A Roof

Kenya

35

1986

A Tree for Peace        

Canada

36

1985

Youth: Population and the Environment       

Pakistan

37

1984

Desertification

Bangladesh

38

1983

Managing and Disposing Hazardous Waste: Acid Rain and Energy        

Bangladesh

39

1982

Ten Years After Stockholm (Renewal of Environmental Concerns)

Bangladesh

40

1981

Ground Water; Toxic Chemicals in Human Food Chains

Bangladesh

41

1980

A New Challenge for the New Decade: Development Without Destruction    

Bangladesh

42

1979

Only One Future for Our Children – Development Without Destruction    

Bangladesh

43

1978

Development Without Destruction    

Bangladesh

44

1977

Ozone Layer Environmental Concern; Lands Loss and Soil Degradation 

Bangladesh

45

1976

Water: Vital Resource for Life          

Canada

46

1975

Human Settlements    

Bangladesh

47

1974

Only one Earth during Expo '74        

United States

 

WED 2020

On the occasion of World Environment Day 2020, the government has announced implementation of the Nagar van scheme to develop 200 Urban Forests across the country in next five years with a renewed focus on people's participation and collaboration between Forest Department, Municipal bodies, NGOs, Corporates and local citizens. Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change celebrated WED focusing on the theme declared by United Nation's Environment Programme (UNEP) and organizes several events. In view of the prevalent situation due to COVID-19 pandemic the ministry held virtual celebrations of World Environment Day on this year's theme with focus on Nagar Van (Urban Forests). Releasing a brochure on the best practices on Urban Forests and announcing the Nagar Van scheme, Union Environment Minister, Shri Prakash Javadekar said that these forests will work as lungs of the cities and will primarily be on the forest land in the City or any other vacant land offered by local urban local bodies. Stressing on this year's theme i.e. "Time for Nature" with special focus on biodiversity, Shri Javadekar said "thumb rule is that if we protect nature, nature protects us". A film was played during the Environment Day Celebrations today which narrates how the initiatives of Punaikars along with Forest Department and local body has converted 16.8 ha of a barren hill into green forests. Today, the forest is rich in biodiversity with 23 plant species, 29 bird species, 15 butterfly species, 10 reptiles and 3 mammal species. This Urban Forest project is now helping maintain ecological balance, serving both environmental and social needs. The Warje Urban Forest is now a role model for the rest of the country. Stressing on this year's focus on Biodiversity the Environment Minister said ,"India has 8 percent of world's biodiversity, despite having many constraint like only 2.5 % of the world's landmass, has to carry 16% of human as well as cattle population and having only 4% of fresh water sources; the mega biodiversity that we have is the result of Indian ethos which is to be in sync with the nature." Highlighting the Indian culture, Shri Javadekar said that "India is probably the only country where trees are worshipped, where animals, birds and reptiles are worshipped and this is the respect Indian society places for environment. We had a very important tradition of village forest since ages, now this new scheme of urban forest will fill up the gap because urban areas have Gardens but very rarely forests; With this activity of creating urban forest we will also create additional carbon sink. India is endowed with rich biodiversity having several species of animals and plants and hosts 4 of the 35 global bio-diversity hotspots containing several endemic species. However, increasing population, deforestation, urbanisation and industrialisation have put our natural resources under tremendous pressure causing loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity is vital for survival of all life form on this planet and is a key to providing various ecological services. Biodiversity conservation has traditionally been considered confined to remote forest areas but with increasing urbanisation a need has arisen to safeguard and save biodiversity in urban areas also. Urban forest is the best way to bridge this gap. The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has therefore, appropriately adopted Nagar van as the theme of WED celebrations 2020 to promote and conserve biodiversity in urban landscapes.

WED 2020 theme:

World Environment Day is one of the biggest days of recognition for encouraging people worldwide to save and protect our environment from different environmental challenges the world is facing today. The World Environment is also "People's Day" which is a day to do something to take care of our environment. It is an important platform for promoting the dimensions of environmental Sustainable Development Goals. World Environment Day 2020 focused on Biodiversity and was hosted by Colombia in partnership with Germany. This year the theme of World Environment Day 2020 was "Celebrate Biodiversity". "With 1 million species facing extinction, there has never been a more important time to focus on biodiversity." Colombia is one of the largest "Megadiverse" nations in the world to hold 10% of the planet's biodiversity. Since it is part of the Amazon rainforest, Colombia ranks first in bird and orchid species diversity and second in plants, butterflies, freshwater fish, and amphibians. Ricardo Lozano, Colombia's Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, JochenFlasbarth, Germany's Secretary of State for the Climate, and Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said that with one million species of plants and animals facing extinction, there has never been a more critical time to focus on the problem of biodiversity. The year 2020 is a critical year for nations' commitments to preserving and restoring biodiversity Listed as one of the world's "mega-diverse" countries and sustaining close to 10 per cent of the planet's biodiversity, Colombia ranks first in bird and orchid species diversity and second in plants, butterflies, freshwater fish and amphibians. The country has several areas of high biological diversity in Andean ecosystems, with a significant variety of endemic species. It also has part of the Amazon rainforest and the humid ecosystems of the Chocó bio-geographical area.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is typically a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near the equator, which is the result of the warm climate and high primary productivity. Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth, and is richest in the tropics. These tropical forest ecosystems cover less than 10 percent of earth's surface, and contain about 90 percent of the world's species. Marine biodiversity is usually highest along coasts in the Western Pacific, where sea surface temperature is highest, and in the mid-latitudinal band in all oceans. There are latitudinal gradients in species diversity. Biodiversity generally tends to cluster in hotspots, and has been increasing through time, but will be likely to slow in the future. Rapid environmental changes typically cause mass extinctions. More than 99.9 percent of all species that ever lived on Earth, amounting to over five billion species, are estimated to be extinct. Estimates on the number of Earth's current species range from 10 million to 14 million, of which about 1.2 million have been documented and over 86 percent have not yet been described. More recently, in May 2016, scientists reported that 1 trillion species are estimated to be on Earth currently with only onethousandth of one percent described. The total amount of related DNAbase pairs on Earth is estimated at 5.0 x 1037 and weighs 50 billion tonnes. In comparison, the total mass of the biosphere has been estimated to be as much as 4 TtC (trillion tons of carbon). In July 2016, scientists reported identifying a set of 355 genes from the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of all organisms living on Earth.

Why should we care about Biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the variation of Earth's terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species, as well as their habitats. Biodiversity is vital to the survival of all life on earth and is also the cornerstone for the goods and services of the environment that allow human societies to thrive. Biodiversity provides us with food, water and resources as well as services such as climate control, pollination, flood mitigation and cycling of nutrients. Ecosystems are relying on all parts from the smallest bacteria to the largest vertebrate. It's all interconnected. Some are producing oxygen that others are breathing. Some provide food for larger species, which in turn become prey to even larger species. Every living organism has a role to play in the maintenance of balance.You can ultimately lose much more than one species by removing one element. More than 98% of the species in nature are extinct.

Biodiversity comprises three primary types:

Comprises three primary types: species diversity (genetic diversity), species diversity (animal diversity) and habitats diversity (ecosystem diversity).

Ecological services and biodiversity:

Biodiversity supports many ecosystem services: There is now unequivocal evidence that biodiversity loss reduces the efficiency by which ecological communities capture biologically essential resources, produce biomass, decompose and recycle biologically essential nutrients... There is mounting evidence that biodiversity increases the stability of ecosystem functions through time... Diverse communities are more productive because they contain key species that have a large influence on productivity and differences in functional traits among organisms increase total resource capture... The impacts of diversity loss on ecological processes might be sufficiently large to rival the impacts of many other global drivers of environmental change... Maintaining multiple ecosystem processes at multiple places and times requires higher levels of biodiversity than does a single process at a single place and time. It plays a part in regulating the chemistry of our atmosphere and water supply. Biodiversity is directly involved in water purification, recycling nutrients and providing fertile soils. Experiments with controlled environments have shown that humans cannot easily build ecosystems to support human needs; for example insect pollination cannot be mimicked, though there have been attempts to create artificial pollinators using unmanned aerial vehicles.

Conservation:

Conservation biology matured in the mid-20th century as ecologists, naturalists and other scientists began to research and address issues pertaining to global biodiversity declines. The conservation ethic advocates management of natural resources for the purpose of sustaining biodiversity in species, ecosystems, the evolutionary process and human culture and society. Conservation biology is reforming around strategic plans to protect biodiversity. Preserving global biodiversity is a priority in strategic conservation plans that are designed to engage public policy and concerns affecting local, regional and global scales of communities, ecosystems and cultures. Action plans identify ways of sustaining human wellbeing, employing natural capital and market capital and ecosystem services.

(Author is an environmentalist & freelance writer and has written on environmental issues. E-mail: gurupawanbharti@gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal Image Courtesy : Google