It’s hard to think about anything other than COVID-19 right now.

Unfortunately, environmental challenges don’t disappear just because we’re facing a pandemic. 

World Environment Day 2020 (WED) will look and feel a little different this year.  With much of the world either in lockdown or adhering to some form of social distancing, it will mostly take place within digital events and platforms. 

If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it’s how easily localised issues can become global emergencies. 

We’re all vulnerable to Coronavirus and worryingly, we’re all vulnerable to environmental challenges, too. 

What is World Environment Day?

World Environment Day is an international event that encourages people to engage with environmental issues at a local, national and international level.  It’s a means of creating conversations about environmental challenges and issues and also about celebrating the diversity of life on earth.

When is World Environment Day 2020?

It’s celebrated each year on June 5th.

When Was It First Celebrated?

It was first celebrated in 1974 during the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment and has been an annual event ever since.  Each year sees a different host nation and a different theme.  

World Environment Day 2019 was held in China, for example, and the theme was air pollution.  The World Health Organisation reports that around 4.6 million people each year die due to poor air quality.

Previous years have focused on issues such as rising sea temperatures, food waste and the illegal animal trade.  

What is the Theme for World Environment Day 2020?

2020’s theme is biodiversity.  Biodiversity describes all living species on Earth: plant, animal and fungi, and the unique contribution each one makes to the eco-system it inhabits. 

Humans benefit hugely from biodiversity, but we’re also its biggest threat. 

COVID-19 is an example of what can happen when we upset the balance of biodiversity.  According to the United Nations, ‘75% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans are transmitted to people by animals.’

Why Should We Celebrate it? 

World Environment Day calls on everyone to do their part: consumers, businesses, celebrities, industries and governments.  We all share the same living space and, as in the case of COVID-19, can be equally vulnerable to global challenges and disasters. 

It’s an opportunity to have conversations with employees, employers, politicians, children and friends about environmental issues that we may be unaware of. Certainly, forest fires, coral bleaching, extinction of species and deforestation etc, can seem like someone else’s issue when you live thousands of miles away in the UK. Unfortunately, when we start seeing the effects here, it’ll be too late.  

How Can Your Business Celebrate World Environment Day? 

This year will be a little trickier given so many employees are furloughed or working from home.  You may find yourself more concerned with keeping your business afloat than about starting a dialogue about the environment.  There are some really simple things you can do, however.

  • You could start allowing people to work from home to save on the commute or set-up a car share. 
  • You could encourage employees to bike into work (the Government has a scheme for this.
  • You could introduce recycling facilities or arrange a litter-pick. 
  • You could pick an environmental charity to raise funds for over the next year. 
  • You could work to reduce the carbon footprint of your premises. 
  • You could find ways to encourage conversations about the environment through leaflets or websites. 
  • You can look into energy-generating gym equipment both for your premises and home that harnesses human power to generate electricity.  

How Can Everyone Else Celebrate World Environment Day

Even with social distancing measures in place, there’s still lots going on online.  Visit the World Environment Day website for details about online conferences, digital speakers, virtual events and even live African safaris. You can also follow along via social media.  If you have an event, then you can add it to the database. 

World Environment Day celebrates the unique tapestry of life on our planet but it also wants to show us the urgency of protecting it and ensuring that other generations will be able to enjoy and benefit from the rich biodiversity of our planet. 

It’s a lesson we can’t wait too long to learn. 

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