Everything that surrounds us constitutes our environment.
It includes natural as well as manmade, biotic (living) as well as abiotic (non-living) components. Any change in our environment affects us directly or indirectly.
Researchers have proved that our environment is degrading day by day. Environmental degradation may be defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable. It includes the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife.
Our day-to-day experience of the extreme weather events corroborates this fact. According to IPCCC 5th Assessment Report 2014, CO2 level has risen to 400 ppm from pre-industrial level of 280 ppm and our earth is warmer by 0.78oC than the pre-industrial period.
The protective ozone layer in the stratosphere is depleting and the list of endangered and extinct species of plants and animals is expanding day by day. Environmental pollution in every sphere of life is not only causing serious health problems to man and animal but also impeding the productivity of agricultural crops and livestock.
Therefore, there is an urgent need for collective and collaborative effort to conserve our environment. Increasing awareness among the masses about the need to protect our environment is imperative.
There are various agencies including international organisations and NGOs all over the world engaged in the noble cause of protecting the environment. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.
To increase awareness among masses and to promote environment protection activities, UNEP has formulated an environmental calendar and designated various days/dates of the year to celebrate specific days that highlight various aspects of the environment. Apart from the UNEP list, several other days that pertain specifically to India have also been marked.
The list is a quick marker, to help you flag these days and work towards the mandates provided in it. This will show how dedicated an environmentalist you are.
February 2 World Wetland Day
On this day, in 1971, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance was signed. The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. Known as the Convention on Wetlands, named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.
A wetland is a land area saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other landforms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil.
Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. Wetlands are the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Thus, wetlands are a very important part of our biodiversity and it is essential to see them well protected.
February 28 National Science Day
National Science Day, established by the Department of Atomic Energy, is celebrated all over India on February 28 each year, to mark the discovery of the Raman Effect by Indian physicist Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman on February 28, 1928.
Raman Effect is the inelastic scattering of a photon upon interaction with matter, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.
March 20 World Sparrow Day
World Sparrow Day is a day designated to raise awareness of the house sparrow and other common birds to urban environments, and of threats to their populations and celebrated on March 20.
It is an international initiative by the Nature Forever Society of India in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) and numerous other national and international organizations across the world.
March 21 World Forestry Day
Each year more than 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forests are lost, an area roughly the size of England. As forests disappear, so does the plant and animal species that they hold. Most importantly, forests play a critical role in climate change including global warming.
Deforestation results in 12-18 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, almost equal to all the CO2 from the global transport sector.
Equally, crucial, healthy forests are one of the world’s primary ‘carbon sinks. Therefore, to increase the awareness among masses about the planting of trees and highlighting the urgency to increase the green cover the Word Forest Day is observed on this day every year since March 21, 2013.
March 22 World Water Day
World Water Day is an annual event celebrated on March 22. The day focuses attention on the importance of fresh water and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
This day formally proposed in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.
In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated the first World Water Day and since then, each year focuses on a different issue.
The theme of the World Water Day 2016 was Water and Jobs – Better Water, Better
April 7 World Health Day
The World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on April 7, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations that works towards the international public health and started its operations on this day – April 7, 1948, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
April 18 World Heritage Day
Environment includes not just the natural surroundings but also the manmade ones. A World Heritage Site is a landmark, officially recognised by the United Nations, specifically by UNESCO. Sites are selected with cultural, historical, and scientific or some other form of significance, and they are legally protected by international treaties. UNESCO regards these sites as being important to the collective interests of humanity.
On April 18, 1982 on the occasion of a symposium organised by ICOMOS in Tunisia, the holding of the ‘International Day for Monuments and Sites’ to be celebrated simultaneously throughout the world was suggested.
The UNESCO General Conference also approved the idea. They passed a resolution at its 22nd session in November 1983 declaring April 18 each year ‘International Monuments and Sites Day’.
April 22 Earth Day
The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
In 1970 a group of people in the United States of America got together to draw the attention of the world to the problems being caused to the earth due to modernisation.
While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organisation launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organised events in 141 nations. Since then this day became important all over the world as Earth Day.
May 22 International Day for Biological Diversity
The International Day for Biological Diversity (or World Biodiversity Day) is a United Nations–sanctioned international day for the promotion of biodiversity issues, held on May 22.
From its creation by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly in 1993 until
2000, it was held on December 29 to celebrate the day the Convention on Biological
Diversity went into effect.
On December 20, 2000, the date shifted to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on May 22, 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, and partly to avoid the many other holidays that occur in late December.
June 5 World Environment Day
On this day, in 1972, the Stockholm Conference on human environment was held in Sweden.
There was a large gathering from all over the world and people expressed their concerns for the increasing environmental problems.
The ‘World Environment Day (WED) is the United Nations’ most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment.
Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.
June 17 World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
The World Day to combat desertification, since 1995 promotes public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
The United Nations General Assembly declared in 1994, June 17 as the ‘World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought’ to promote public awareness of the issue. Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa, began.
July 11 World Population Day
World Population day is an annual event, observed on July 11 every year, which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. The Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme established the event in 1989.
Inspired by public interest on Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987, approximately the date on which the world’s population reached five billion people.
September 16 World Ozone Day
The United Nations declared in 1994 this day as the ‘International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer’. It is the day the Montreal Protocol was signed. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion.
On August 26, 1987, it was proposed and entered into force on 26 August 1989. Montreal is the most populous city in Quebec and the second most populous municipality in Canada.
It is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city.
World Habitat Day
The earth is the habitat of not only human beings but also all living creatures. Increasing human activities is threatening the habitat of other living things. To highlight the fact World Habitat Day is observed every year on the first Monday of October throughout the world. First celebrated in 1986 by the United Nations.
October 2-8 National Wildlife Week
In order to orient the common man towards the protection of wildlife, the Indian Board of Wild Life (IBWL) decided to observe the Wildlife Week and since then from October 2 – 8 every year organize different activities related to wildlife conservation to commemorate this week. Wildlife Week celebrated all over the country, offers to preserve fauna means the animal life of the India.
October 4 World Animal Welfare Day
World Animal Day is an international day of action for animal rights and welfare celebrated annually on October 4, the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
Saint Francis of Assisi was an Italian Roman Catholic friar and preacher. He later became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment.
It started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy who wished to highlight the plight of endangered species.
December 2 Bhopal Tragedy Day
Bhopal disaster, also known as Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered the world’s worst industrial disaster.
It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals.
The toxic substance made its way into and around the shantytowns located near the plant.
The official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed 3,787 deaths related to the gas release.