By Afolabi Aribigbola
The 2022 edition of the World Environment Day was held last Sunday as the usual practice in all parts of the globe including Nigeria. The United Nations General Assembly created the World Environment Day in 1973 for the purpose of drawing global attention to environmental problems and to be able to judiciously utilize the earth resources. The World Environment Day celebration is led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually. It has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach since it was first observed in 1974 with the topic “Only One Earth”.
Since these pragmatic and proactive efforts of the United Nations and its agency, UNEP to take adequate care of the human environment, various countries, societies, and groups all over the globe have earmarked the day for seeking ways to improve and upgrade the human environment as well as come up with policies and actions to protect the environment. Suffix to add that the day is now celebrated by millions of people all over the world, and it has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental debates and actions.
The theme for the 2022 celebration is “Only One Earth” with a focus on “Living Sustainability in Harmony with Nature”. Within this framework or theme, there are calls for transformative changes to policies to enable cleaner, greener, and sustainable living in harmony with nature. It also provided an opportunity for calls for collective, transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore our planet.The slogan for the 1972 Stockholm Conference where the idea for the celebration was approved 50 years ago, “Only One Earth” was repeated because the truth still holds that this planet is our only home. Thus, the 2022 campaign spotlights on climate action, nature action and pollution action while encouraging everyone, everywhere to live sustainably. While, recognizing that our individual consumption choices do make a difference, it is collective action that will create the transformative environmental change we need, so we can advance to a more sustainable and just Earth, where everyone can flourish.
That the human environment is very important is incontestable. What has been the issue is the ability to properly manage and care for the environment especially in developing societies such as Nigeria. The environment is very important to man as it affects its qualities of life and welfare in several ways. In the first instance, the very survival of human beings depends on the environment. It provides the air we breathe. The food we eat is sourced from environmental resources. The environment is equally important since it provides countless economic benefits including farming and resources for industries. The above underscores the importance of the environment that motivated most local, national and international agencies including UNEP to focus actions at improving the human’s environment. Thus, several policy efforts and actions have been directed at improving the environment in general.
As indicated earlier, the human environment is very important and that was why World Environment Day was created to serve as a forum for bringing attention to environmental concerns such as pollution, overcrowding, global warming, sustainable consumerism, and wildlife crime use and misuse of the environment in general.The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about the significance of the environment and to remind people that nature should not be taken for granted. Thus, the basis of the celebration of the day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises, and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment.
Furthermore, the environment day is to help us ruminate and consider how we use the environment and consequences of our actions towards charting a good path to ensuring that good policies, programmes and actions are instituted to protect the environment globally. Whilst the day was well celebrated in several countries, not much could be said happened generally in Nigeria. Also, some states such Ondo State did not to mark the day as the usual practice. This is not good enough considering the magnitude of environmental problems calling for attention and actions.
In any event, there are sufficient reasons for Nigeria and Nigerians inability to key in and participate actively in this year’s celebration. This year’s celebration is unique in the sense that it marked the 50th anniversary of the day in which the first theme of this one earth was repeated, underscores the importance of the earth and the environment. Atheme designed to remind the global community of the importance of the need to take care of the environment, that we have no other place to live than the earth and that we should take care of it, ought not to have been neglected. Indeed, the need to take care of the environment of Nigeria is more crucial than those of the more prosperous societies of Europe and America that are better planned and with adequate facilities and services that make for good living.
It is against the background that Nigerian cities have been described as the dirtiest, ugliest and most unplanned cities lacking in basic facilities and services to support good living. The consequence of this development is that there are crises of waste management, noise pollution, unplanned development, insufficient and inadequate facilities and basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation. There are disharmony and incompatible uses, unplanned city development and insecurity. The World Environment Day designed to draw people’s attention to these problems and raise awareness about the need to take action and protect the earth was in most cases neglected this year. The day that should have been used to discuss the need to make our environment cleaner, greener and sustainable were largely neglected. Unfortunately, elections and electioneering activities seem to dominate and overshadow every other activity in the country. Even those that are not professional politicians have been coopted to follow the ongoing political maneuvering, intrigues, and games keenly and faithfully as they unfold every hour.
Since the human environment is very important and following the leading of UNEP and other international agencies, the need to take environmental issue and crisis in Nigeria seriously is now. Climate change is already with us, pollution is widespread in all parts of the country, wildlife and vegetation are being serious threatened, while erosion and desertification are serious environmental problems that need attention and action. All the people have a role in securing the earth. If we are to enjoy the benefits of the environment, we must show concern and take actions to improve, upgrade and protect the environment. Otherwise, the debilitating negative consequences of human actions in terms of crisis await the society, God forbid.
That is why actions and policies to protect and secure the earth is a necessity. It begins by education and awareness about the need to care for the environment as being propagated and promoted by the World Environment Day. In addition, government agencies and departments responsible for managing the various aspects of the environment should rise to the occasion. Also, the professional bodies whose activities impinge on the environment must also live up to expectation by taking the lead to partake in the Day in the future. The environment matters and therefore all the people must contribute to making it secure since we have no other home than the earth.