World Environment Day on 5 June is the biggest international day for the environment. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually since 1974, the event has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach, with millions of people from across the world engaging to protect the planet. This year, World Environment Day 2022 is hosted by Sweden. “Only One Earth” is the campaign slogan, with the focus on “Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature”.
With over 150 countries participating, this UN international day engages governments, businesses, civil society, schools, celebrities, cities and communities, raising awareness and celebrating environmental action.
2022 A historic milestone
2022 is a historic milestone for the global environmental community. It marks 50 years since the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, widely seen as the first international meeting on the environment. The 1972 Stockholm Conference spurred the formation of environment ministries and agencies around the world and kickstarted a host of new global agreements to collectively protect the environment. It was also where the goals of poverty alleviation and environmental protection became linked, paving the way for the Sustainable Development Goals. At the Stockholm Conference the idea of World Environment Day was formalized, with the first one being celebrated in 1974.
In early June 2022 the high-level Stockholm+50 international meeting will be held in Sweden, a few days before World Environment Day. The communications around these events are connected and will be mutually reinforcing. There is a circularity in this year’s World Environment Day; 50 years ago the theme of the Stockholm Conference was also “Only One Earth”. The message is as important today as it was then.
2022: Emergency mode
The world is facing three major environmental crises: climate change, biodiversity and nature loss, and pollution and waste, driven by human activity and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production. The world’s most vulnerable communities are often the most impacted by the environmental crisis. Of the 7 million people who die annually as a result of air pollution, a disproportionate number are children and the elderly, and most are in the developing world. In 2020, climate shocks forced 30 million people to flee their homes – around three times more than those displaced by war and violence. By 2050 the number of people displaced by the environmental crisis could be as high as 200 million. Tackling these crises is critical to saving lives and improving the future of billions of people.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in January 2022, António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, said: “We must go into emergency mode against the climate crisis. The battle to keep the 1.5-degree goal alive will be won or lost in this decade. And we are far off-track.” He added, “We need an avalanche of action.”
This is a messaged backed up by Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director. She said: “2022 is all about shifting into emergency gear for people and planet.” She underscores that we need to recognize “both our impact and dependency on nature gives us the best chance of not just surviving but thriving on this delicate and beautiful planet.”
Act for our common home!
There is #OnlyOneEarth and protecting it is a global challenge and responsibility. We have the solutions, knowledge and technology to limit climate change and avoid ecological collapse but we need to act collectively. We need to rethink the way we live and the way we consume.
Climate change does not respect borders and pollution is a global challenge that requires a global response. Ecosystem restoration, a key part of the climate solution, is critical to addressing poverty and enhancing human and ecological resilience. While our individual consumption choices do make a difference, it is collective action that will disrupt the status quo. We need to collectively make immediate and transformative change and advance to a more sustainable and just Earth, where everyone can flourish.
“Only One Earth” was the slogan for the 1972 Stockholm Conference; 50 years on, this truth still holds – this planet is our only home. With nature in emergency mode, the #OnlyOneEarth campaign, which is part of World Environment Day 2022, wants you to celebrate the planet through collective environmental action.
#OnlyOneEarth advocates for transformative environmental change on a global scale. The campaign shines a spotlight on climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution while encouraging everyone, everywhere to live in harmony with nature. The campaign will provide case studies and promote best practices, helping governments, businesses, institutions and individuals to scale up environmental action, supporting the significant, urgent change we need.
Along with individual lifestyle actions, the campaign will focus on pushing the levers of power and finance to support real solutions for people and our planet. Humanity must urgently work together to share equitably Earth’s resources and protect and restore the natural world on which our societies and economies depend.
Earth Action Numbers Tactic
From April to June, individuals, businesses and community groups will be encouraged to share on social media and our website how they’re helping to safeguard the planet. Using the hashtag #OnlyOneEarth, they’ll be encouraged quantify exactly what they’ve done, helping to set a tangible example for others.
Earth Action Number examples:
• 60 bags of collected trash, 3 primary school classes, #OnlyOneEarth
• 10,000 commuters moved through the city, 5 electric buses, #OnlyOneEarth
• US $3 million worth of pension funds divested from fossil fuels #OnlyOneEarth
• 2 electric firefighting trucks #OnlyOneEarth
To align with the Stockholm+50 (S+50) communication plan, World Environment Day 2022 will follow a thematic rollout of communications:
- APRIL 2022: FINANCE, TECHNOLOGY and BUSINESS ACTION
- MAY 2022: CITIES, COMMUNITIES and YOUTH ACTION
- JUNE 2022: MULTILATERAL ACTION
Sweden as host
World Environment Day 2022 will be an opportunity to showcase some of Sweden’s pioneering work on the environment over the past 50 years. UNEP will work with Sweden to showcase these innovations through a series of written stories and short videos that will be shared online.
World Environment Day is for everyone. However, 2022 will emphasise youth and civil society as drivers of environmental action, with governments, cities, financial institutions and industries as the duty bearers who can advance and implement progress and sustainability at scale.
Individuals can be drivers of change through their support for businesses and governments. The actions of these larger entities can have a transformational impact, potentially locking in sustainable consumption and production behaviours for the decades to come.
Partnerships, collaborators, and coalitions
Collaboration will scale action for World Environment Day 2022. By reaching out to strategic organizations around the world, maximizing collaboration and creating mutual value, World Environment Day 2022 can create powerful and diverse coalitions that cut through regional, demographic and generational barriers. This can help galvanize the push for transformative action by businesses and governments.