OECS:-Tuesday, June 6, 2017 — The year 1972 marked a defining moment in the development of international environmental politics with the hosting of the first major conference on environmental issues—The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held from June 5 – 16 in Stockholm, Sweden. The main aim of the conference was to devise a basic common outlook on how the challenges of preserving and enhancing the human environment could be addressed (United Nations).
As a result, World Environment Day has been celebrated on June 5th since 1974 amidst growing concerns such as the depletion of the ozone layer, toxic chemicals, desertification and global warming. The annual celebration was started by the United Nations General Assembly and aims to raise global awareness about the importance of a healthy and green environment to human lives, to urge the implementation of positive environmental actions and to make societies aware that everyone has a role to play including governments and organisations working in the area. Over the years, participants have helped to drive change in consumption habits, as well as in national and international environmental policy. Also, since 1974, the celebration campaign of World Environment Day is hosted in different cities of the world. This year, celebrations will be hosted in Canada under the theme “Connecting People to Nature” (United Nations)
OECS ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
Closer to home, the OECS Commission’s mandate under the St. Georges Declaration of Principles for Environmental Sustainability in the OECS Region includes the goal of Achieving the Long-term Protection and Sustained Productivity of the Region’s Natural Resource Base and the Ecosystem Services it Provides. The Commission is implementing effective actions on behalf of the OECS Member States through the following focal areas:
- Biodiversity and Ecosystems
- Climate Change and Disaster Risk
- Land and Water Resources
- Ocean Governance and Fisheries
- Sustainable Energy
Recent and current actions include strengthening the organisational, legal and regulatory frameworks and enhancing the capacity of institutions and communities at national and regional levels to effectively manage natural resources and to build resilience.
IMPORTANCE OF NATURE
The theme for 2017, “Connecting People to Nature”, urges us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty, think about how much we depend on it and to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship. Farmers, fishers and people in rural communities around the globe are the ones who spend most of their work day in nature and fully appreciate their dependence on natural resources and how they provide their livelihoods. In addition, they are among the first to feel the negative impacts of threatened or damaged ecosystems by issues such as pollution, over-exploitation and climate change.
Services of the natural environment like clean air and water are hard to value in monetary terms and are often taken for granted until they become scarce. Economists are therefore developing ways to measure these many ecosystem services ranging from insects pollinating fruit trees to the leisure, health and even the spiritual benefits of a hike up a mountain or a bath in a waterfall.
More recently, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development affirms the need “to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources”. Sustainable Development Goals 14 and 15 focus on protecting critical ecosystems under water and on land and on the sustainable use of marine and terrestrial resources.
CONNECT WITH NATURE IN THE OECS REGION
Join the global celebration by taking the opportunity this week, in honour of World Environment Day and World Oceans Day, to connect with nature and enjoy the many natural sites in OECS Member States. Feel free to take a photo of your favourite sites, forests, wildlife, ocean, sea etc.and submit to the OECS Commission at [email protected] for posting to an OECS World Environment Day Facebook album. We also encourage you to tag photos uploaded to social media with #WorldEnvironmentDay #WorldOceansDay or #WithNature.