• Florence Sharma

This idea of World Environment Day was born as a movement on 1972 at UN conference of the Human Environment in Stockholm. Since 1974, it is celebrated annually on 5th June and now it achieved the status of highly important platform to promote desired progress on environmental dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Last year’s host country was Sweden (in 7th rank as “happiest countries worldwide” with an average score of 7.38 in a scale of 0-10 during 2021) and this year (2024) it is hosted by Saudi Arabia. The theme of this year 2024 is: “Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought Resilience” which means the degradation of fertile land and the encroaching desertification threatens foundation of food security, biodiversity, and community resilience. Land restoration is a key pillar of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030). Earth’s 40% land is degraded affecting half of the world’s population. Since 2000, number and duration of droughts has increased by 29%; and if it continues draughts may affect over 3 quarters of the world’s population by 2050.

These are few very important points on which to work urgently for achieving the relevant SDG.

Five key SDGs of the 2030 Agenda address the environmental determinants of health and contribute directly and indirectly to SDG 3 focused on “health” – ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. These SDGs address the issues of water, sanitation and hygiene, air quality, chemical safety, and climate action.

We have only one green earth, one home, one family and one mother. Our survival with a comfortable life on this mother earth depends on its purity of nature. Mainly it dependent on soil / land, water, air, forests etc. But un-balanced consumption of natural resources, deforestation, rapid industrialization, war, wildlife crime, air & marine pollution, climate change etc. have damaged the eco-system of the world. The theme of World Environment Day (WED) – 2022 is Only One Earth, focusing on “Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature”.

Land loss and Soil Degradation (Flood, Global Warming and Ozone Layer Environmental Concern) causes less land available for our existence in earth / mother land increasing the “population density”. Then automatically it causes crisis of resources for quality human-living. In the 2021’s Global Hunger Index (GHI), India ranks 101 out of 116 countries and is behind its neighbors – Pakistan, Bangladesh & Nepal. Extreme weather difficulties / challenges associated with global climate change, coupled with health & economic challenges associated with the COVID19 pandemic/epidemic are fuelling the problem of food security (toxic Chemicals in Human Food Chains) and hunger. Sri Lanka ranks 65th & Venezuela ranks 82nd on Global Hunger Index in 2021.

The GHI score is calculated on four indicators – undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who are wasted i.e who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition) and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five). Venezuela has a growing crisis of malnourished kids. In India also; during 1998 – 2002, wasting among children was 17.1 % which increased to 17.3 % during 2016-2020 according to a scientific report. The vicious circuit of “Poverty and Environment” to be breaked and managed properly.

As per Global Food Security Index (GFSI) of 2021, India is at 71st position with an overall score of 57.2 points on the GFS Index 2021 among 113 countries. Though India performed better than nearby countries like – Pakistan (75th position), Sri Lanka (77th Position), Nepal (79th position), Bangladesh (84th position); but still remains behind China (34th position). [GFSI indicates four arenas for focus – agricultural resiliency, food systems integrity, smart tech innovation, and empowering farmers.]

Unwanted environmental changes such as climate change increasingly have an impact on people’s health and well-being in the Region by disrupting physical, biological, and ecological systems globally. Environmental Determinants of Health (EDHs) can have an adverse impact on health and well-being at the population level. These environmental threats can occur naturally or because of social conditions and ways people live. Extreme weather events have exacerbated food insecurity, alterations in flora and fauna, air pollution, access to clean water, population migration etc. Approximately 28 million people do not have access to improved sources of safe drinking water, resulting in about 30 thousand preventable deaths each year. In thick populated areas during urbanization, ground water level goes down creating scarcity of safe drinking water.

Deforestation & combustion of fossil fuel enhances the climate change by creating air pollution. Climate change includes Global warming caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. Aeroplane emitting carbon in sky, traffic emits same in ground, AC equipment emits same in office & House buildings. Nine out of ten (9 /10) people live in city inhale polluted air in city in the world (have below air quality as per WHO standard norms). Even 1/10 people in America uses cooking fuels that pollutes living air at their home. Though healthy air breathing is our right, approximate 7 million premature death per year happen due to air pollution. Shifting from combustion of “Fossil Fuel” to “Renewable Clean Energy” may reduce the burden of this problem. We need to initiate the habit towards a low carbon economy.

Climate change, high temperature & Polluted Air causes trouble to Human health, Animal health, leading to Financial & Social impact. It creates inflammation of alveoli of lung, COPD, lung cancer, pneumonia, other respiratory disease; cardio vascular diseases, Ischemic heart disease, stroke (CVA); faster skin aging; reproductive system issues, pre tem births; neuro degenerative diseases, neurological disorders; changing cycle / seasonal pattern of Vector Born Diseases [like seasonality of Dengue in India is changing now].

Hazardous chemical risks, such as exposure to toxic pesticides, lead, and mercury tend to disproportionally impact children and pregnant women.

Exposure to toxic chemicals can lead to chronic and often irreversible health conditions such as neurodevelopment problems, and congenital defects and diseases associated with endocrine disruption.

The health effects of these disruptions may include a range of health problems including infectious disease; heat stress and mental health problems.

The increase of incidence of Dengue and Chikungunya were observed in India and few other countries due to EL-Nino effect during 2023. The unfavorable climate change is helping in occurrence and distribution of the vector borne diseases like Dengue etc as it makes the conditions favorable to the breeding of vector mosquitoes. Different components of environment like climate change, deforestation, intensive farming and change in land use, irrigation, population movement and rapid unplanned urbanization etc may help in rapid transmission of Vector Borne Diseases.

In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly declared that the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will run from 2021 to 2030. It will promote the United Nation’s environmental goals to facilitate global cooperation for the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems along with fostering efforts to combat climate change, safeguard biodiversity, food security, and water supply. Following on from a specific duration of “2011 –to- 2020”, United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, the decade on Ecosystem Restoration was already launched in June 2021. Managing and disposing hazardous waste will take care of Acid Rain and Energy also.

Ecological restoration, is the practice of renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human interruption and action. India also needs to pursue a similar goal of the decade to catalyse a nature friendly movement. “Development without destruction of nature” and “Renewal of Environmental Concerns” to be our objectives with a zero tolerance for the anti-environment activities. This Green Planet – “Earth” is the only planet that supports our life. We should save it so that our future generations can live in a safe environment. We can save the Earth by saving its natural resources. So, we must take care and maintain it with due respect to our mother earth / land / Country / State. If we can’t protect it, our own existence will be endangered. Desired environment and shelter will be more than a roof for us. Our green planet needs your help – raise your voice (not the sea level) to maintain a suitable environment for living.


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