World Environment Day

5th June - World Environment Day


[Text Box:] The United Nations World Environment Day is its principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action, this year, on beating plastic pollution. “If you can‘t re-use it refuse it” is the current theme. 

Above all, World Environment Day is the "people's day" for doing something to take care of the Earth. That "something" can be focused locally, nationally or globally; it can be a solo action or involve a crowd. Everyone is free to choose.

Each World Environment Day is organized around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2018 is beating plastic pollution.

Every World Environment Day has a different global host country, where the official celebrations take place. The focus on the host country helps highlight the environmental challenges it faces, and supports the effort to address them. This year's host is India.

In recent years, millions of people have taken part in thousands of registered activities worldwide. Please sign up so we can keep you updated on various activities.

'If present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish'.  Plastic bottles completely cover the water line on the Kalamu River, which runs through the centre of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Plastic has been highlighted as one of the biggest environmental threats facing the world by the UN in a call to action issued to mark World Environment Day.

While emphasising the success of many international efforts to tackle plastic waste, the organisation described how the “scourge of plastic” has reached every corner of the Earth. In a report billed as the most comprehensive yet to examine global government strategies against the “scourge”, UN experts called for  concerted action to “beat plastic pollution”.

Levies and bans – of the kind already being rolled out for some plastic products in the UK – were found to be among the most effective strategies for dealing with the problem.

Presenting case studies from more than 60 countries, the UN analysis explored the different strategies being implemented and suggested measures that policymakers can take to curb the problem.

Bans on products such as styro-foam and plastic bags in parts of the world as diverse as New York City and Rwanda have proved highly effective.

The report found 30 per cent of the nations that had introduced restrictions on plastic bags had seen substantial declines in bag consumption in the first year following the action.

In April, data compiled by government scientists in the UK revealed that the number of plastic bags found on the sea-beds around the country had declined in recent years – suggesting charges on supermarket carrier bags had helped stem their use.  Ministers have also considered the introduction of a similar “latte levy” to cut the use of disposable coffee cups. 

However, the authors of the UN report warned that much more needs to be done, and called for cooperation from businesses and incentives that would encourage a more circular economy in which plastic is widely recycled.

The call follows a world-first “plastics pact” in which more than 40 major UK businesses pledged to eradicate single-use plastics from packaging in an effort to tackle the global pollution crisis.

In countries that have had less success in stemming the tide of plastic pollution, the two main issues highlighted were the lack of affordable alternative to plastics, and a failure to enforce effective strategies.

While acknowledging that every country has different problems when it comes to plastic production and waste management, the authors of the report suggested 10 universal steps that policymakers can follow.

These included calls for more eco-friendly alternatives to plastics and the promotion of reusable products.

“The assessment shows that action can be painless and profitable – with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.  “Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it.”

The report was launched in New Delhi to mark World Environment Day, an annual event held by the UN to raise awareness about environmental issues and promote action to tackle them.

To mark the occasion, United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres issued a statement in which he said “we all have a role to play in protecting our only home”.  Mr Guterres cited astonishing statistics, such as the number of microplastics in the ocean now outnumbering stars in the galaxy, and the eight million tons of plastic that end up in the seas and oceans every year.

“Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste,” he said. 

[Text Box: A new report from UN Environment finds a surging momentum in global efforts to address plastic pollution. The first-of-its-kind accounting finds governments are increasing the pace of implementation and the scope of action to curb the use of single-use plastics. In what is framed as the first comprehensive review of ‘state of plastics’, UN Environment has assembled experiences and assessments of the various measures and regulations to beat plastic pollution in its report. This global outlook, developed in cooperation with the Indian Government and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, presents case studies from more than 60 countries. The report analyses the complex relationships in our plastics economy and offers an approach to rethink how the world produces, uses and manages single-use plastics. Among the recommendations are specific actions policy makers can take to improve waste management, promote eco-friendly alternatives, educate consumers, enable voluntary reduction strategies and successfully implement bans or levies on the use and sale of single-use plastics. The report was launched in New Delhi today by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim on the occasion of World Environment Day. “The assessment shows that action can be painless and profitable – with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution,” said Erik Solheim Head of UN Environment, in the report’s foreword. “Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it.” Under the theme: “Beat Plastic Pollution”, World Environment Day 2018 is issuing a call to action to individuals, governments, the public and the private sector to examine joint solutions to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife and our own health.] “From remote islands, to the Arctic, nowhere is untouched. If present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish.