Celebration of World Environment Day on 5 June
Introduction and background
South Africa will on the 5th June 2022 join other nations of the world in commemorating the World Environment Day (WED). This year, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment jointly with KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Mr. Ravi Pillai and the City of eThekwini will mark this year’s commemoration in Durban, KwaZulu Natal.
WED is the biggest international day for the environment awareness. Led by UNEP and held annually since 1974, the event has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach, with millions of people from across the world engaging to protect the planet.
This year, World Environment Day (WED2022), scheduled for 5 June 2022, will be held under the campaign slogan “Only One Earth”, with the focus on “Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature”. 2022 is a historic milestone for the global environmental community. It marks 50 years since the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, widely seen as the first international meeting on the environment.
The world is facing three major environmental crises: climate change, biodiversity and nature loss, as well as pollution and waste. This is driven by human activity and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production. The world’s most vulnerable communities are often the worst impacted by the environmental crises.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF 2022) Climate action failure is also considered the most critical threat to the world in both the medium term (2-5 years) and long term (5-10 years), with the highest potential to severely damage societies, economies and the planet. Climate action failure, extreme weather events, and biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse were considered the top three of the top 10 global risks by severity over the next 10 years in the annual Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS).
On the one hand, South Africa (SA), as one of the world’s most carbon-intensive electricity producers, and the world’s 15th largest emitter — relies heavily on coal which supplies 87% of the nation’s electricity. On the other hand, SA is among the many vulnerable developing countries already experiencing the impacts of Climate Change.
This is evident from the increased intensity and frequency of climate-induced hazards, such as localised floods, heatwaves (and wildfires) and prolonged droughts that are impacting lives, food security, and infrastructure.
The torrential rains and resultant flooding recently (April – May 2022) experienced in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province of South Africa have been rightfully described by President Ramaphosa as a “catastrophe of enormous proportion” — the torrential rains have led to flooding, triggered mudslides, over 430 deaths (and counting), damage/destruction to thousands of homes, displacement of thousands of people, disruption to Municipal services like electricity, water, and refuse removal, damage/destruction of electricity and water infrastructure as well as transport infrastructure like roads and bridges (which has hampered emergency relief efforts). It is within this context that United Nations Environment Programme in partnership with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment plan to commemorate WED2022 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
- To inform, engage South Africans about the significance of the global commemoration of WED2022;
- To galvanise South Africans to partner with government to protect our environment;
- Heighten awareness on the environmental crises facing communities in South Africa;
- To sensitise communities about steps to be taken to protect themselves during extreme weather events such as floods;
- Promote a better understanding of the community members to be responsible for protecting their immediate environments.
- Educate and create awareness about climate action;
- Educate and create awareness on the waste and pollution and the effects it has on the environment and humanity.