day that should reflect environmental realities
June 5, I get slightly depressed. I shouldn’t be, given
that it is a day that is dedicated to the environment
and its multiple and growing concerns.
also supposed to be the single day on which focus is
drawn to national and international issues concerning
our global environment. At least it is supposed to.
day, dedicated to the task of creating global awareness
on environmental concerns is, for all intents and
purposes, a political circus in Sri Lanka. My claim
might resonate with other countries and other nations
that perhaps have similar or worse stories. But for
it has always been a day for unrepentant but symbolic
political speech making and a day to plant trees. A year
later, more trees are planted in the same place and the
conclusion is that it’s part of this nation’s obsession
with politics that do not serve the polity.
political rhetoric and the false starts given to various
conservation projects form part of our environmental
history. We have grown up witnessing so many such
events. It may be asking for too much given that there
is post war euphoria that drowns all other concerns yet
one must insist on real commitment.
also why, instead of lip service, this year’s World
Environment Day celebrations should be as to how Sri
Lanka can give true meaning to the special day.
was June 5 recognised as World Environment Day in the
first place? This recognition was accorded by the UN
General Assembly some three decades ago – way back in
1972 — and continues to be one of the primary methods
that the United Nations uses to raise awareness about
year, the World Environment Day follows a theme to draw
attention to a crucial issue. This year’s theme is “Your
Planet Needs You — UNite To Combat Climate Change.”
Naturally, given the world’s multiple concerns triggered
off by climate change, there are many efforts to keep
focus on the issue.
Each year a theme
Looking back, the year 2004 had a theme. It was —
“Wanted! Seas And Oceans — Dead Or Alive?” In 2005, it
was “Green Cities — Plan For The Planet!” In the year
2006, it was “Don’t Desert Dry Lands!”
Climate change came to the fore in the year 2007 when
the UN theme was “Melting Ice — A Hot Topic?” Just last
year, 2008, it again focused on an issue that triggers
off terrific climate change impacts — the issue of
carbon emissions. The topic was “CO2, Kick The Habit!
Towards A Low Carbon Economy.”
the UN, commemorating World Environment Day (WED) on
June 5 is one of the principle vehicles through which
the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment
and enhances political attention and action.
A human face
a day that is supposed to genuinely give a human face to
the world’s many environmental issues, empower people to
become active agents of sustainable and equitable
development, a day to promote an understanding that
communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards
environmental issues and to advocate partnership which
will ensure all nations and people may enjoy a safer and
global body has more global and common issues to focus
on, why is it that Sri Lanka has failed to at least
symbolise its environmental concerns all these years?
Each year we have tamashas, conferences, workshops,
planting of trees etc. and that appears to be our sum
total of commitment to saving Planet Earth.
To combat climate change
UN states, June 5 is a day for reflecting upon the
urgency for nations to agree and work on a formula to
combat climate change. About sustainable development
and management of natural resources.
(despite the swine flu) will take the lead as UNEP’s
partner in a ‘Billion Tree Campaign.’ The Mexican
President Felipe Calderon together with the people have
undertaken a task like no other— to spearhead the
planting of some 25% of the country’s trees under the
campaign. Accounting for around 1.5% of global
greenhouse gas emissions, Mexico is demonstrating its
commitment to climate change.
The Sri Lankan environmental authorities unequivocally
agree that climate change is indeed a concern for Sri
Lanka, with coral bleaching, coastal erosion, rising sea
levels and increased natural disasters including floods
and earth slips.