In 1972, the UN General Assembly designated 5 June as World Environment Day. The first celebration, under the slogan “Only One Earth” took place in 1974. In the following years, World Environment Day has developed as a platform to raise awareness on issues concerning our environment such as air pollution, plastic pollution, illegal wildlife trade, sustainable consumption, sea-level increase, and food security.

World Environment Day helps drive change in consumption patterns and in national and international environmental policy.


World Environment Day 2021 Theme: Ecosystem Restoration

The theme for World Environment Day 2021 is “Ecosystem Restoration”. Ecosystem restoration can take many forms: Growing trees, greening cities, rewilding gardens, changing diets or cleaning up rivers and coasts.

Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as 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.

All kinds of ecosystems can be restored, including forests, farmlands, cities, wetlands and oceans. Restoration initiatives can be launched by almost anyone, from governments and development agencies to businesses, communities and individuals. That is because the causes of degradation are many and varied, and can have an impact at different scales.

UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030)

Launched on World Environment Day, the United Nations 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. It is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world.

Between now and 2030, the restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems could generate US$9 trillion in ecosystem services. Restoration could also remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The economic benefits of such interventions exceed nine times the cost of investment, whereas inaction is at least three times more costly than ecosystem restoration.

Actions for a global movement 

Together with World Environment Day, UNEP has published a practical guide to ecosystem restoration to encourage the revival of ecosystems everywhere. The Ecosystem Restoration Playbook provides an introduction to the range of actions that can slow and halt the degradation of ecosystems and foster their recovery.

The guide outlines three pathways to getting involved in ecosystem restoration: Taking action such as starting or support an on-the-ground restoration project; making smart choices like buying sustainable products and changing diets; raising your voice in support of ecosystem conservation and restoration

It also lays out how all parts of society – from individuals and community groups to businesses and governments – can become part of this global movement to restore ecosystems everywhere for the good of people and nature.

Written by: Laura Persavalli


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