The first World Environment Day was established by the United Nations in 1972, on the day of the first UN Conference on the Human Environment. In the years since then, it has become a broad, global platform for public outreach, celebrated in more than 100 countries. It embraces both individual actions and collective initiatives that have a positive impact on the environment: we all are, after all, agents of change.
This year’s World Environment Day, hosted by Angola, focusses especially on the fight against illegal trade in wildlife, which causes acute animal suffering and is a great threat to the preservation of wildlife and biodiversity.
UNEP executive Director Steiner states:
“This year we have seen significant steps to combat the illegal wildlife trade, including the first United Nations resolution on wildlife trafficking… UNEP looks forward to partnering with Angola to raise awareness of the issue and accelerate the action that will protect species, ecosystems and livelihoods from extinction.”
Population Matters embraces the proactive message of World Environment Day. We are committed to creating a future in which humanity thrives in harmony with a healthy and biodiverse environment. We deeply appreciate the value of natural amenities and wildlife, and the importance of protecting our non-human fellow beings from the harmful impacts of human activity.
We would also point out that the endorsement of a sustainable lifestyle is not sufficient on its own to achieve long-term environmental preservation.
The environment is affected in many ways by increasing human activity. Intensive animal agriculture, resource abstraction, pollution and waste accumulation are just a few of the many damaging activities that pose a serious threat to wildlife, in addition to poaching and illegal trade. While better awareness and technology may help to reduce some of these harms, population growth will continue to exacerbate them.
So far, policies have mostly focussed on reducing the negative impact per person on our environment, but the total number of people has remained largely unaddressed. Therefore, we will continue to call for the empowerment of women, improved family planning facilities and better sex and reproductive health education in school.