Today (April 22) is Earth Day, an international event celebrated around the world to pledge support for environmental protection. The year 2021 marks the 51st anniversary of the annual celebrations. This year’s theme for Earth Day is ‘Restore Our Earth’.
In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 as ‘International Mother Earth Day’.
“Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is a chance to set the world on a cleaner, greener, more sustainable path,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement.
“Mother Earth is clearly urging a call to action. Let’s remind more than ever on this International Mother Earth Day that we need a shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet”.
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Earth Day was first observed in 1970, when 20 million took to the streets to protest against environmental degradation. The event was triggered by the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, as well as other issues such as smog and polluted rivers.
For over the next half century, Earth Day continued to play an important role in environmental activism.
The landmark Paris Agreement, which brings almost 200 countries together in setting a common target to reduce global greenhouse emissions, was signed on Earth Day 2016.
According to earthday.org, Earth Day aims to “build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and the planet.” The movement’s mission is “to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.”
According to the United Nations, International Mother Earth Day is celebrated to remind each of us that the Earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance. This Day also recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.
This day provides an opportunity to raise public awareness around the world to the challenges regarding the well-being of the planet and all the life it supports.
According to earthday.org, this year’s theme focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.
“In this way, the theme rejects the notion that mitigation or adaptation are the only ways to address climate change. It is up to each and every one of us to Restore Our Earth not just because we care about the natural world, but because we live on it. We all need a healthy Earth to support our jobs, livelihoods, health & survival, and happiness. A healthy planet is not an option — it is a necessity,” it says.
This year, seven major climate-related events are taking place in parallel on April 22, including the Leaders’ Summit on Climate hosted by the United States, and the Exponential Climate action Summit on Financing the Race to Zero emissions.