Global Theme for World Environment Day 2020 – A Natural Choice
Biodiversity, the variety of wildlife around us, is our fundamental life support system.
In the UK and beyond, the Society for the Environment champion World Environment Day – a UN initiative which takes place each year on the 5th June. The global awareness programme shines attention on a particularly pressing environmental theme, providing a platform for global education and inspiration and creating a legacy of action up to, including and beyond the 5th June.
UN Environment calls upon the general public, educators, businesses and governments to take action to protect our environment. The Society amplifies this call to action with a supporting awareness campaign, drawing on and highlighting the expertise and experience of Chartered Environmentalists and Registered Environmental Technicians, who share their case studies of projects and activities that have made a positive impact on biodiversity.
Keep an eye out for how to get involved in the Society’s upcoming awareness campaign by signing up to the Society’s newsletters.
So, what is the UN Environment global theme for World Environment Day 2020?
Following the theme announcement, Chartered Environmentalists from across sectors gave their insight into why biodiversity is such a key topic at this time, how it impacts upon the world we live in and the benefits that come from protecting and enhancing biodiversity.
To kick this off, Claire Wansbury CEnv, Associate Director of Ecology: Infrastructure at Atkins, highlights the timeliness of the theme; stressing that positive contributions are possible when it comes to tackling the climate and biodiversity emergencies:
“The 2020 theme for World Environment Day is very timely. Biodiversity is a term that encompasses the diverse habitats, such as woodlands, wetlands and grasslands, present around the world and the wild plants and animals they support. Many of the rarest species and habitats have special protection, but the commonplace is also important, and collectively biodiversity has a huge value.
The value of biodiversity is twofold: it has an intrinsic value in its existence, but it also has an economic and social value due to the benefits it provides to people. For example, a parkland can support rare species, but it also contributes to the physical and mental health of the people who use it. Pollinators, which include many species, are critical to human food production, while many important medicines come from nature.
I have been encouraged to see governments, local societies and businesses across the world making declarations of climate and biodiversity emergencies. Commentators often talk about one or the other of these, but the reality is that these emergencies are intertwined. Climate change endangers many species, while loss of habitats of high biodiversity value can also compromise our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change. More positively, at Atkins I have found that we can often create solutions that deliver a ‘win-win’ result, where the right actions in the right places contribute positively to dealing with both the climate and biodiversity emergencies.”
Chris Gerrard CEnv, Catchment and Biodiversity Manager at Anglian Water, agrees that biodiversity is vital. Increased awareness is therefore very much welcomed:
“Biodiversity, the variety of wildlife around us, is our fundamental life support system. As the richness of that biodiversity is diminished, so are our lives, until, without it, life would not be possible at all. Around the globe the pace of biodiversity loss is alarming. In the UK, despite some success stories, the overall abundance and distribution of species is trending in the wrong direction. If we don’t address the biodiversity and climate crises, we will impoverish the lives of future generations.
We can overcome these challenges, and reap the rewards for society and the economy, if we work together and treat the environment as a connected system. We have to protect the biodiversity we have and restore it where possible. We must work with nature and not against it. For us at Anglian Water that means recognising the value to us of a healthy natural environment and working with others to enhance it.
And at home, as voters, customers and members of our community, we have the ability to influence others and turn the tide. Let’s do it before time runs out.”
Sarah Jones CEnv, Environment Manager at Siemens plc, draws our attention to the multiple wellbeing benefits stemming from nature, highlighting once again the value of biodiversity:
“I was delighted to see the UN unveil their theme for World Environment Day as Celebrating Biodiversity. Most of us will have daily interactions with biodiversity but perhaps don’t recognise them. By celebrating the wonder of the natural world, it helps us understand the positive impacts we can have.
At Siemens we also recognise the value that spending time in nature has on our mental health and wellbeing. Every year, hundreds of Siemens employees spend time with their local Wildlife Trust caring for their local natural spaces. Being outside in nature allows them to take time to think, slow down and reflect. Getting to know their local Trust has also inspired Siemens sites to broaden their relationship with nature by improving their work environments for wildlife.
We look forward to getting back out supporting the Wildlife Trusts later in the year, and especially during the current situation would encourage anyone wherever they live to find ways to connect with the natural world around them.”
Bringing the theme right to your doorsteps, Martin Gettings CEnv, Head of Sustainability at Canary Wharf Group, is keen to ensure that when you think of biodiversity, you not only consider the South American rainforests, African savannas and beautiful coral reefs – although they are critical too. Vital biodiversity is also in your garden, on your roof and in the local park:
“There is more to urban biodiversity than meets the eye. With most people living and working in built up areas, we must find more ways to protect, enhance, celebrate and connect with the nature in our cities and near to our homes, as well as in our countryside and national parks.
The focus for World Environment Day 2020 is Biodiversity. This is a great time to highlight the ecology so close to all our doorsteps. Let’s use this initiative to inspire and activate urban populations, to be more aware and involved, to connect with the natural world closer to home and to enjoy the enhanced quality of life and wellbeing connection with nature brings to all of us.”
These are the opinions of experts. Now is the time to join us in making a difference.
As a starting point, check out the World Environment Day website for insight and even some interactive education for the kids: