By Keith Madden, Area of Focus Manager for the Environment
On 5 June, join us in celebrating World Environment Day. With the environment as one of our area of focus, Rotary is committed to facing some of our greatest planetary challenges: the quickening pace of biodiversity loss and climate change, and the need for sustainable, equitable environmental solutions.
This year’s World Environment Day is a noteworthy milestone as it marks 50 years since the United Nations Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment opened, the first global environmental summit of its scale. This conference created the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and led to a new era of global cooperation on the issues that all nations share.
This year’s World Environment Day will pay homage to that cooperation with the theme #OnlyOneEarth and a call for transformative collective actions to help humans live sustainably in harmony with nature—in other words, making peace with nature instead of working against it. That is a message Rotary members from all over the world can bring back to their communities.
Environmental decline is eroding hard-fought progress towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and must be confronted. Rotary members can take action locally and globally by reducing pollution burdens, developing nature-based climate solutions, and protecting valuable habitats. We have already seen Rotary members train over 800 subsistence farms in rural Rwanda on agroecology and agroforestry methods, develop effective plant nurseries in coastal Colombia, and work with the Taiwanese Forestry Bureau to improve forest health. Environments can flourish when these types of collaborations happen, and World Environment Day challenges us to rise to the occasion. The U.N. and Rotary support the idea that cleaner, greener lifestyles can emerge from projects bridging individual choices and institutional leadership.
World Environment Day is just one day, but supporting the environment should be more than a passing consideration. May it be a day of direct environmental action and also one of planning, strategizing, and dreaming that will lead to long-term change.