World Environment Day

World Environment Day Quick Facts - ZA

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2024 Date5 June 2024
2025 Date5 June 2025

World Environment Day

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World Environment Day History

World Environment Day (WED) is an annual global event that aims to raise awareness about environmental issues and encourage people worldwide to take action in the protection and preservation of our planet. Launched by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972, it became an official event in 1974 to bring attention to environmental concerns such as pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and depletion of natural resources. Over the years, the event has blossomed into a platform for people, organizations, and governments to engage, share ideas, and collaborate towards a sustainable future for generations to come.

The history of World Environment Day can be traced back to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972. This conference saw growing worldwide recognition for the need to address the various challenges facing our environment. Since its inception, WED has been hosted by various countries and has adopted different themes each year, focusing on specific environmental concerns such as 'Melting Ice - a Hot Topic?' in 2007, 'Green Economy: Does it include you?' in 2012, and 'Beat Air Pollution' in 2019.

Observed annually on June 5th, WED acts as a call to action for individuals, communities, and governments to raise awareness and implement changes for the betterment of our environment. The event has a lasting impact on people around the world, including South Africa, by uniting them in addressing and tackling environmental issues that directly affect our lives and the world we inhabit.

World Environment Day facts

  • Approximately 70% of Earth's oxygen is produced by marine plants. The remaining 30% is generated by terrestrial plants, including trees and other vegetation.
  • The Earth's average temperature has risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times. This is primarily due to human activities.
  • It is estimated that about 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forests are lost each year, equivalent to roughly 27 soccer fields per minute.
  • South Africa is home to more than 9% of the world's vascular plants and has many endangered species, such as black rhinoceros, African penguins, and riverine rabbits.
  • South Africa generates approximately 59 million tons of waste per year, a significant portion of which is not properly managed or recycled. Landfills are fast reaching their capacity, and the country lacks adequate infrastructure for recycling and waste treatment.

Top things to do in South Africa for World Environment Day

  • The Environmental Media Association hands out awards each year. Take a look at the nominees and winners and consider trying yourself.
  • Watch a documentart to learn more about the environmental issues in South Africa. Here are our recommendations:
    1. Radioactive Waste and the Nuclear Controversy (2016) - This documentary investigates the impact of nuclear power plants and radioactive waste in South Africa.
    2. The Shore Break (2014) - The film follows the conflict between a rural community in South Africa's Wild Coast and the mining company that wants to exploit the area's titanium deposits.
    3. Stroop: Journey into the Rhino Horn War (2018) - This film takes viewers on a journey through the devastating effects of rhino poaching and the ongoing efforts to save the species.
  • Read a book to learn more about the environmental issues in South Africa. Here are our suggestions:
    1. The Water Crisis in South Africa: Its History, International Context, and Policy Implications by Anthony Turton and Andrew Jordaan
    2. South Africa's Environmental Revolution: Critical Reflections on an Unfinished Process by Fabio Freschi
    3. Whose Water Is It Anyway? South Africa's Ongoing Water Crisis by Anthony Turton and Rina King

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