The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Conference) was an international conference held in Sweden from June 5-16, 1972. It was the UN’s first major conference on international environmental issues and marked a turning point in the development of international environmental politics. Its goal was to create a common view on how to address the challenge of preserving and enhancing the human environment. Later that year, on 15 December, the General Assembly adopted a resolution designating June 5 as World Environment Day and urging “Governments and the organizations in the United Nations system to undertake on that day every year world-wide activities reaffirming their concern for the preservation and enhancement of the environment, with a view to deepening environmental awareness and to pursuing the determination expressed at the Conference.” On the same day, the General Assembly adopted another resolution that led to the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the specialized agency on environmental issues.
Since 1973, World Environment Day has helped UNEP to raise awareness and generate political momentum around growing concerns, such as the depletion of the ozone layer, toxic chemicals, desertification, and global warming. UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling communities to improve and restore their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UNEP employs seven interlinked subprograms for action: Climate Action,
Chemicals and Pollutions Action, Nature Action, Science Policy, Environmental Governance, Finance and Economic Transformations and Digital Transformations. Through its campaigns, particularly World Environment Day, UNEP raises awareness and advocates for effective environmental action.
To make every country aware regarding environmental issues and their solutions each year a different country hosts World Environment Day. In 2021 Pakistan host this day with a theme “Ecosystem Restoration”. The hosting of World Environment Day 2021 in Pakistan is an acknowledgment of our country’s swift transition towards a “clean and green Pakistan” through a well-articulated climate change and environmental agenda consisting of several flagship green initiatives on the ground. Pakistan is also working on various ambitious efforts to expand and restore its forests, having already planted one billion trees as part of its 10 billion Tree Tsunami Project. For a Green Future, Pakistan has already set policies in motion to make 60% of our energy mix, clean and green and shift 30% of road transport to electric vehicles by end of 2030. Pakistan in 2021 also initiated many other steps such as Launch of Waste Wise Cities Tool in Pakistan for Clean and Healthy Cities and Oceans, Climate Finance Action Plan, Launch of Green Bond, and Launch of Blue Carbon Report and MPA.
This year Stockholm conference makes 50th anniversary of the establishment of UNEP and theme of the Environment Day is “Only One Earth”. It means that live sustainably with nature. The 2022 World Environment Day theme #OnlyOneEarth calls for collective, transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore our planet. Today the world is facing serious issues related to environment such as severe climate change, biodiversity loss, more pollution and earth is damaging by its own habitants. Time is very short for taking steps for a better environment and to keep global warming below 1.5°C this century, we must halve annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Without action, exposure to air pollution beyond safe guidelines will increase by 50% within the decade and plastic waste flowing into aquatic ecosystems will nearly triple by 2040. According to United Nations humanity is using up the world’s resources faster than they can naturally recover. In 2014 cost of climate adaptation in developing countries was $100 billion a year and now it raises to $500 billion a year which is quite alarming for the countries which are already underdeveloped. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022 rated “Climate Action Failure” as the most severe risk facing the world over the next decade.
UN Environmental Program says that, despite many climate agreements, progress towards decrease the effects of climate change is still too slow and individuals and civil society must play a key role in raising awareness and urging governments and the private sector to make large-scale changes. Individuals, civil society organizations, policy makers, youth leaders all are important stakeholders in creating awareness and forming environment friendly policies. The more we raise our voices, emphasize what needs to be done and point out who is responsible, the faster change will come. This is the high time to work together for climate friendly policies and actions globally. If we want that this unique and beautiful planet remains a comfortable home for humanity we must work together for the healthy planet.