Every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch, and over the last century, we have destroyed half of our wetlands. As much as 50 % of our coral reefs have already been lost, and up to 90% of coral reefs could be lost by 2050, even if global warming is limited to an increase of 1.5°C. The emergence of COVID-19 has also shown just how disastrous the consequences of ecosystem loss can be. By shrinking the area of natural habitat for animals, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens – including coronaviruses – to spread.
World Environment Day was established in 1972 by the United Nations at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, which had resulted 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.”
2021 Theme: Ecosystem Restoration
Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed and conserving the ecosystems that are still intact. Healthier ecosystems with richer biodiversity yield greater benefits such as more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish, and larger stores of greenhouse gases.
2021 Host Country: Pakistan
Every World Environment Day is hosted by a different country, in which official celebrations take place and this year’s host is Pakistan.
The Government of Pakistan plans to expand and restore the country’s forests through a ’10 Billion Tree Tsunami ‘spread over five years. The campaign includes restoring mangroves and forests, as well as planting trees in urban settings, including schools, colleges, public parks, and green belts.
Through the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, Pakistan is contributing to the Bonn Challenge, a global effort linked to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Under the challenge, countries are pledging to bring 350 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2030.
UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030)
This World Environment Day will kick off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the sea. The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration following a proposal and resolution for action by over 70 countries from all latitudes. The UN Decade runs from 2021 through 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline scientists have identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Decade is building a strong, broad-based global movement to ramp up restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future. That will include building political momentum for restoration as well as thousands of initiatives on the ground.