World Environment Day: Theme, History and Importance


World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5. This day is observed to encourage environmental awareness and protection. According to the United Nations, “The celebration of this day provides us with a chance to extend the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible behaviour by individuals, businesses, and communities in protecting and enriching the environment.” 

Every year, the United Nations declares a specific theme for World Environment Day celebrations. Reimagine. Recreate. Restore. Together, these form the theme of World Environment Day 2021 i.e., “Ecosystem Restoration.” The day aims to draw the attention of  investors, corporations, governments, and communities to the increasingly urgent need to restore the Earth’s ecosystems.

World Environment Day History

The day was first observed in 1974 in the city of Spokane in the USA. On the first day of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, the United Nations General Assembly inaugurated World Environment Day in 1972. The first World Environment Day (WED) was observed two years later, in 1974, with the theme “Only One Earth.” Despite the fact that the Environment Day has been celebrated yearly since 1974, the idea of rotating the centre of these activities by selecting different host countries started in 1987.

World Environment Day Themes: 2010-2021

  • 2010: ‘Many Species. One Planet. One Future’, was the theme of 2010. Hosted in Rwanda, it celebrated the diversity of life on Earth as part of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. 
  • 2011: The world environment day of 2011 was hosted by India and the theme was Forests—Nature At Your Service. 
  • 2012: World Environment Day 2012’s theme was Green Economy. The celebrations were held in Brazil. 
  • 2013: The theme of WED 2013 was “Think, Eat, Save.”  According to the United Nations, one-third of all food produced does not make it from farm to table, resulting in the waste of 1.3 billion tonnes of food worth $1 billion. This amount would be sufficient to feed the world’s 870 million people suffering from hunger and also significantly reducing CO2 emissions.
  • 2014: 2014 was dedicated to the sea, under the theme “Raise your Voice not the Sea Level!” in order to raise awareness on the problems island nations are facing due to rising sea levels. 
  • 2015: In 2015, WED was hosted by Milan, Italy, under the theme “Seven Billion People. One Planet. Consume with Care”. That year, WED was the most popular subject on Twitter in more than 20 countries. 
  • 2016: “Zero tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife” was the theme of the 2016 edition, hosted by Angola
  • 2017: The 2017 edition, was held under the slogan “Connecting People with Nature” to highlight the crucial role we play in protecting the planet, to which we are closely linked and depend on, with official celebrations taking place in Canada.
  • 2018: The 2018 edition, hosted by India, aimed to “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
  • 2019: WED focussed its efforts to “Beat Air Pollution”, an issue chosen by China, a country deeply affected by this environmental problem.
  • 2020: In 2020, the host was Colombia in partnership with Germany and the theme was biodiversity – a concern that is both urgent and existential.
  • 2021: The theme for 2021 is “Ecosystem Restoration”, and will be hosted by Pakistan. On this occasion, the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration will also be launched.
YearThemeHost city
1974Only one Earth during Expo ’74Spokane, United States
1975Human SettlementsDhaka, Bangladesh
1976Water: Vital Resource for LifeOntario, Canada
1977Ozone Layer Environmental Concern; Lands Loss and Soil DegradationSylhet, Bangladesh
1978Development Without DestructionSylhet, Bangladesh
1979Only One Future for Our Children – Development Without DestructionSylhet, Bangladesh
1980A New Challenge for the New Decade: Development Without DestructionSylhet, Bangladesh
1981Ground Water; Toxic Chemicals in Human Food ChainsSylhet, Bangladesh
1982Ten Years After Stockholm (Renewal of Environmental Concerns)Dhaka, Bangladesh
1983Managing and Disposing Hazardous Waste: Acid Rain and EnergySylhet, Bangladesh
1984DesertificationRajshahi, Bangladesh
1985Youth: Population and the EnvironmentIslamabad, Pakistan
1986A Tree for PeaceOntario, Canada
1987Environment and Shelter: More Than A RoofNairobi, Kenya
1988When People Put the Environment First, Development Will LastBangkok, Thailand
1989Global WarmingBrussels, Belgium
1990Children and the EnvironmentMexico City, Mexico
1991Climate Change. Need for Global PartnershipStockholm, Sweden
1992Only One Earth, Care and ShareRio de Janeiro, Brazil
1993Poverty and the Environment – Breaking the Vicious CircleBeijing, People’s Republic of China
1994One Earth One FamilyLondon, United Kingdom
1995We the Peoples: United for the Global EnvironmentPretoria, South Africa
1996Our Earth, Our Habitat, Our HomeIstanbul, Turkey
1997For Life on EarthSeoul, Republic of Korea
1998For Life on Earth – Save Our SeasMoscow, Russian Federation
1999Our Earth – Our Future – Just Save It!Tokyo, Japan
2000The Environment Millennium – Time to ActAdelaide, Australia
2001Connect with the World Wide Web of LifeTorino, Italy and Havana, Cuba
2002Give Earth a ChanceShenzhen, People’s Republic of China
2003Water – Two Billion People are Dying for It!Beirut, Lebanon
2004Wanted! Seas and Oceans – Dead or Alive?Barcelona, Spain
2005Green Cities – Plan for the Planet!San Francisco, United States
2006Deserts and Desertification – Don’t Desert Drylands!Algiers, Algeria
2007Melting Ice – a Hot Topic?London, England
2008Kick The Habit – Towards A Low Carbon EconomyWellington, New Zealand
2009Your Planet Needs You – Unite to Combat Climate ChangeMexico City, Mexico
2010Many Species. One Planet. One FutureRangpur, Bangladesh
2011Forests: Nature at your ServiceDelhi, India
2012Green Economy: Does it include you?Brasilia, Brazil
2013Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your FoodprintUlaanbaatar, Mongolia
2014Raise your voice, not the sea levelBridgetown, Barbados
2015Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.Rome, Italy
2016Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Wildlife tradeLuanda, Angola
2017Connecting People to Nature – in the city and on the land, from the poles to the equatorOttawa, Canada
2018Beat Plastic PollutionNew Delhi, India
2019Beat Air PollutionChina
2020Time for NatureColombia
2021Ecosystem restorationPakistan

World Environment Day 2021 – Putting Ecosystem Restoration on a Podium

We have been exploiting and ruining our planet’s ecosystems for far too long now. Every three seconds, the world sheds sufficient forest to encompass a football field, and we have destroyed half of our wetlands in the previous century. Even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C, as much as 50% of our coral reefs have already been gone, and as much as 90% of coral reefs could be destroyed by 2050.

The emergence of COVID-19 has served as a stark reminder of how catastrophic the consequences of ecosystem loss can be: the destruction of animals’ natural habitats creates favorable conditions for pathogens like coronaviruses to spread.

Emissions of greenhouse gases have risen globally over three consecutive years. So, it is immediate for this year’s World Environment Day to coincide with the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, an international mission running through 2030 to safeguard and revive billions of hectares of precious and much required natural resources, from forests and farmland to the oceans.

Ecosystem Restoration: Why Does it Really Matter?

There are important reasons to restore ecosystems. Aside from the intrinsic worth of biodiverse, functioning ecosystems, they also serve as the foundation for many of our activities.  Rebalancing human use of ecosystem services like pollination, flood protection, and CO2 sequestration, as well as nature’s capacity to supply such services is critical to human long-term success.

Moderately, half of the world’s GDP is reliant on ecosystem services. The degradation of ecosystem services puts businesses at significant risk, ranging from reduced returns and the possibility of default to increased insurance liabilities. Simply said, the collapse of the ecology will lead to the collapse of the economy.

Investing in ecosystems is investing in our future

The official celebrations of World Environment Day 2021 will be held in Pakistan this year. The day demands immediate action to restore our damaged ecosystems. We all rely on natural ecosystems for survival, from forests to peatlands to beaches.

Ecosystem restoration is a massive global undertaking. It entails restoring billions of hectares of land — an area larger than China or the United States – to ensure that people have food, clean water, and employment. It entails rescuing plants and animals on the verge of extinction, from the highest peaks to the deepest depths of the ocean.

Importance of World Environment Day

World Environment Day is the major annual event organised by the United Nations to raise public awareness about environmental issues. Its main goal is to examine numerous concerns such as air pollution, extreme climatic changes, greenhouse effect, global warming, and the black-hole effect.

According to the World Environment Day Global website, one million plant and animal species are currently driven to the risk of extinction. The goal is for young people to recognize that they have a role to play in preventing biodiversity loss and preserving nature for future generations.

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Also Read:

List of Important International and National Days in May 2021

World No Tobacco Day 2021: Theme, History and Significance

World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) 2021

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