Secretario General Adjunto de las Naciones Unidas
y Director Ejecutivo del PNUMA
For 40 years World Environment Day (WED) has
been the United Nations’ principle vehicle for raising
awareness across communities, cities, countries
and continents on environmental issues, after being
established at the Stockholm Conference on the
Human Environment — which also founded UNEP.
And for 40 years WED has brought to the world’s
attention evolving and pressing challenges that
everyone faces as a result of rising environmental
degradation, pollution and unsustainable patterns of
consumption and production.
In 1974 — the first year WED had a dedicated theme,
with the banner ‘Only One Earth’ — the headline
underlined a simple but still relevant fact: humanity has
only one home, and thus it is prudent to look after it.
In 1989 the issue of climate change was raised through
the WED theme ‘Global Warming: Global Warning’.
In the 1990s WED made the links between poverty and
the environment and expressed rising concern over the
seas and oceans.
In 2003 a key Millennium Development Goal was
brought to the fore under the hard hitting slogan
‘Water—Two Billion People are Dying for It!’
Recent WEDs have perhaps changed in character,
reflecting much more sharply the urgency of bringing
the environmental, social and economic strands in the
DNA of sustainable development far closer together
through the lens of a Green Economy.
Take ‘Kick the Habit—Towards a Low Carbon Economy’
in 2008 and ‘Forests—Nature at Your Service’ in 2011
The banner for WED 2012 represents not only one
of the overarching themes for Rio+20 — a Green
Economy in the context of sustainable development
and poverty eradication — but it speaks to the issue of
equity that any transformation of the global economy
‘Green Economy—Does It Include You?’ is also addressed
to nations preparing for Rio+20 — two decades after the
Rio Earth Summit.
It urges all leaders — alongside ministers, companies
and civil society delegates — attending to join in
delivering an outcome that generates opportunity
and work for the underemployed and unemployed in
a way that keeps humanity’s footprint within planetary
boundaries. Rio+20 needs to be a defining moment
that puts in place the action and the pathways to realise
a sustainable 21st century.
Everyone on this planet has a stake in that. So let us
make this year’s WED, happening just weeks before
the Summit, the moment when citizens everywhere get
out and act for a positive outcome.
So that 20 and 40 years from now the WED themes
are less warnings of environmental decay and more
celebrations of the way the prospects for seven billion
people — rising to over nine billion by 2050 — on our
Only One Earth have prospered since 2012.